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Home > Services > Urology > Urology Conditions & Treatments > Male Urinary Incontinence

Male Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence—Male

Urinary incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control that can lead to urine leakage. Incontinence can be temporary or long-lasting. It is a symptom, not a condition.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

The leakage may be caused by:

  • Weakening of the muscles that suspend the bladder
  • Weakening of the muscles that control urine flow
  • Damage to the muscles that control urine flow following prostate surgery
  • Obesity

Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)

The causes of overactive bladder include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Diabetes type 1 and type 2
  • Bladder irritation (such as kidney stone or tumor)
  • Drugs (such as hypnotics or diuretics)
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nerve damage due to:
    • Spinal cord injury
    • Stroke
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Parkinson's disease
  • Constipation

Overflow Incontinence

This occurs when the bladder will not empty. The urine builds up and overflows. This leads to leaking of urine. It may be caused by:

  • Prostate enlargement
  • Bladder that is blocked, such as by a scar in the urethra (stricture)
  • Fecal impaction putting pressure on the urethra
  • Drugs (such as antidepressants, hypnotics, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, antihistamines, calcium channel blockers)
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Nerve damage

Functional Incontinence

This is when you have normal bladder control, but you are unable to reach the toilet in time. It may be a result of a condition like severe arthritis. Drugs that cause confusion or sedation can also lead to functional incontinence.

There may be several different causes for incontinence. In some cases, the cause may also be unclear.

Are You at Risk?

Factors that may increase your risk of incontinence include:

  • Age: older than 65
  • History of prostate surgery
  • Prostate enlargement due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), infection, or prostate cancer
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Obesity
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Urethritis
  • Depression
  • Dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury or disease
  • Use of certain substances or medicines:
    • Caffeine
    • Alcohol
    • Beta-blockers
    • Alpha-agonists
    • Cholinergic agents
    • Cyclophosphamide

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a symptom of other conditions. Any loss of bladder control can be considered incontinence.

With stress incontinence, leakage may happen when there is extra pressure on your bladder. This can happen when you laugh, sneeze, lift heavy objects, or exercise.

With urge incontinence, you may have a loss of bladder control following a strong urge to urinate. You may not be able to hold urine long enough to make it to a toilet.

When Should I Call My Doctor?

Call your doctor if you have a loss of urine control. Your doctor can help you determine the underlying cause.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will be asked about your urine leakage and how often you empty your bladder. A physical exam will be done to look for any physical causes. These include blockages or nerve problems. Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary of your urinary habits.

You may be referred to a specialist. Urologists are doctors who focus on urinary issues.

Tests to help find the cause of the incontinence may include:

  • Stress test—you relax, and then cough as your doctor watches for loss of urine (this will confirm if you have stress incontinence)
  • Urine tests
  • Tests to explore problems with your prostate (such as a prostate exam or blood tests)
  • Blood tests to detect diabetes
  • Ultrasound—uses sound waves to examine structures inside the body to determine if any urine remains in your bladder after urinating
  • Cystoscopy —a thin tube with a tiny camera is inserted into the urethra to view the urethra and bladder
  • Urodynamic tests—used to measure the flow of urine and the pressure in the bladder

Treating Male Urinary Incontinence

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy includes:

  • Making muscles stronger by doing Kegel exercises, which strengthen the muscles that hold the bladder in place and control urine flow
  • Painless electrical stimulation can strengthen the muscles more quickly; helpful for stress incontinence
  • Creating a regular schedule to empty your bladder (called bladder training); may also involve drinking fewer liquids

Weight Loss

Losing weight may help reduce the number of episodes due to stress or urge incontinence. Talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that is right for you.

Medication

Medicines, called anticholinergics, may be prescribed to relax the bladder muscles. They are often used in treating urge incontinence. Examples include:

  • Oxybutynin (Ditropan)
  • Tolterodine (Detrol)
  • Darifenacin (Enablex)
  • Solifenacin (Vesicare)
  • Fesoterodine (Toviaz)

Devices for Incontinence

Depending on the severity of your condition, your options may include:

  • Absorbent diapers 
  • Catheters; external (condom) or internal (Foley) catheters
  • Penile clamp, which are padded and have a sleeve to absorb leakage

Condom Catheter

condom catheter

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Home Care

Tips for your home that can help:

  • Take care of your skin by gently cleaning yourself after an episode of incontinence. Let the skin air dry.
  • Make it easier to get to the bathroom. For example, rearrange furniture and remove throw rugs. Add night-lights in the hallway and in the bathroom.
  • If needed, keep a bedpan or urine canister handy in your bedroom.

Nerve Stimulation

Devices like Urgent PC and Inter-Stim may be used to stimulate the nerves. This may involve implanting a thin lead wire with a small electrode tip. This electronic stimulation therapy can be done as a series of treatments in your doctor's office.

Surgery

In men, surgery may be done to relieve a physical blockage due to an enlarged prostate.

Other procedures involve surgical repair or implants into the bladder sphincter. The sphincter is the gate that allows the urine to flow through.

Prevent Incontinence

Incontinence is really a symptom of another condition. Steps to prevention include:

  • Reduce your intake of substances that lead to incontinence. These include caffeine, alcohol, and certain drugs.
  • Lose weight.
  • Avoid and treat constipation.

Get Your Incontinence Treated

Don't wait; visit your primary care provider or the urology clinic


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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