Urinary incontinence refers to involuntary urination or urinary leakage. In women, urinary incontinence is more common, but it also occurs in men, especially with aging. If left untreated, urinary incontinence can be a major social issue in life.

In young men and middle-aged people, urinary incontinence is usually quite rare. It is usually associated with nerve or structural problems. However, as a result of aging, men’s incontinence increases. About one-quarter of men over 70 years of age are suffering from disruptive urinary incontinence.

What’s on this page?

Incontinence in men: symptoms and diagnosis

Occasional urinary incontinence is common. If at times, a few drops of urine drops out during exercise, there is no reason to worry.

Occasionally, urinary incontinence may be caused by mild urinary tract infection. This can be tested quickly at the doctor. Incontinence due to inflammation disappears with proper treatment.

If the discomfort is continuous, the type of incontinence can be determined by a doctor. Sometimes it is also necessary to keep a urine diary to clarify the diagnosis. The three main types of urinary incontinence are urge incontinence, stress incontinence and overflow incontinence. In addition, some people have mixed symptoms of different types.

Urge incontinence is accompanied by an overactive bladder. Its symptoms are:

  • Constant feeling of urination and feeling that the bladder is full
  • Urination after feeling the urge
  • Awakening to the bathroom at night and frequent toilet visits

This type may be associated with urinary tract infections or urinary tract surgery. There may be a variety of problems in the background, for example, nervous system problems, MS or diabetes. Your doctor should always check the correct diagnosis. Urge incontinence is a common type of incontinence in men.

In stress incontinence, urine escapes without having the need to urinate, for example, during sports or while coughing. The pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues give way and the pressure in the abdominal cavity causes urine to escape from the urethra.

In men, the typical form of urinary incontinence is overflow incontinence. Here the bladder suffers from the problems of emptying. In this case, urine will not be urinated despite the overflow and leakage occurs when the bladder fills beyond its limits. Leakage may happen continuously drop by drop without having the feeling of going to the toilet. There is reason to doubt overflow incontinence, especially if the urine escapes at night or at daytime naps.

Why does it occur?

There may be a variety of problems behind male incontinence. Because urinary incontinence is often a symptom of another, you should always seek medical attention.

Reasons for urinary incontinence may include:

  • Changes associated with aging such as impaired kidney function and increased urinary excretion
  • Bladder shrinkage due to old tissue changes
  • Weakening of the urethral sphincter
  • Prostatic hyperplasia
  • Prostate cancer and its treatment
  • General diseases, including CNS disorders, dementia, depression, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and disorders in bowel habits
  • Medication, for example, drugs that affect the sympathetic nervous system and dehydration drugs

Incontinence and problems with prostate 

Urinary incontinence in men is often caused by prostate problems. Overflow incontinence occurs especially in men who have a heavily enlarged prostate. This benign prostate hypertrophy causes, for example, increased urinary frequency, urinary tract infections, and the feeling that the bladder does not completely empty itself. Prolonged prostate can be treated by laser procedures, which may also stop the problems of urinary incontinence when the prostate stops pushing the bladder. On the other hand, the operation may also cause incontinence. Most of the older men seeking treatment for urinary incontinence have undergone prostate surgery, where the prostate is removed.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It causes a variety of urinary problems that are similar in symptoms to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Since there may be serious hidden health problems behind urinary incontinence, you should always seek medical help.

How can I prevent incontinence?

In men, overweight and poor muscle condition can cause urinary incontinence. The muscles surrounding the bladder weaken older and the extra pressure begins to push the bladder. If there is no illness behind urinary incontinence, simple lifestyle changes can try to correct the situation. Good physical condition, maintenance of function and weight loss help. Coffee and alcohol should be limited, as they accelerate urination.

The man also benefits from the pelvic floor exercises. Muscles can be strengthened, for example, by practising urinary retention while sitting on the toilet and “stopping” the flow during urination.

Even though urinary incontinence would occur, the quality of life can be improved by using various incontinence pads and diapers.

Medical examination and medication

It is advisable to seek medical advice when urinary incontinence significantly impairs life. The reasons behind this problem should always be clarified.

If caused by inflammation or problems with the prostate, these can be alleviated by proper medication and measures. Incontinence can also be treated with medication that improves the functioning of the urethral sphincter. Leakage caused by a loose sphincter muscle can be treated with a three-part closure muscle prosthesis. In some cases, overflow incontinence must be treated by repeated catheterization.