Improving the experience of young men with continence problems

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This article has been double-blind peer reviewed

In this article…

• The effect of continence problems on young people

In this article…

• The experience of a young man with continence problems

In this article…

• How staff can improve the care of young men with continence problems


Ann Dix is freelance health writer.

About 900,000 children and young people are affected by bladder and bowel problems in the UK but, because of the stigma attached, many hide the issue and do not access the help they need. Young men are particularly vulnerable as there is little recognition of male continence problems. A survey of young people showed that almost half would feel “uncomfortable” talking about their continence problems to relatives and friends, and almost two-thirds would be embarrassed to see a doctor. This is compounded by a lack of early intervention, gaps in specialist children's bladder and bowel services, and lack of support in the transition from child to adult services. Healthcare staff often have little training in continence issues and poor awareness of its impact on young people. This article reports the experience of one young man with continence problems, while two continence specialists - a nurse and an occupational therapist - explain how staff can improve the experience of care for young people with incontinence.


Dix A (2018) Improving the experience of young men with continence problems. Nursing Times; 114: 9, 36-38.

Key points

One in 10 young people and children in the UK experience bladder and bowel problems but the issue is often hidden, particularly in young adults and teenagers

Key points

Young men are particularly vulnerable because of a lack of recognition of male continence problems

Key points

Due to the stigma associated with continence issues, many young men are not accessing the help available

Key points

Most nurses have little training or experience in continence issues, which can cause them to make unhelpful assumptions

Key points

Staff need to help young men feel comfortable disclosing such information, and facilitate shared decision-making between patient and clinician

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