Urinary incontinence is the unintentional leakage of urine. It’s a common condition that many men find embarrassing to talk about. But it affects over 2 million men in the United States alone, so you are not alone!
Incontinence happens when the muscle that keeps the bladder closed, called the sphincter, becomes too weak to hold urine in. It can also occur if the bladder muscles squeeze too hard and force out urine. Or if the bladder doesn’t empty fully on a regular basis.
For men, incontinence is often tied to prostate issues. An enlarged prostate, prostate removal surgery, or prostate cancer treatments can all contribute to incontinence.
To understand incontinence, it helps to know how the bladder functions normally. The bladder is an organ that stores urine made by the kidneys. Tubes called ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Another tube, the urethra, lets urine exit the bladder and leave the body.
As urine collects in the bladder, it stretches the bladder walls. This triggers a message to the brain that you need to urinate. The brain tells the bladder muscles to squeeze and push out the urine. At the same time, the sphincter relaxes and opens to let urine flow through the urethra.
This coordination requires a complex interplay between bladder and sphincter muscles, nerves, and the brain. If any part of this system is damaged, it can lead to urine leakage, or incontinence.
There are several factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence in men:
The specific cause will determine the type of incontinence experienced. A urologist can evaluate your symptoms and diagnose the issue.
Common signs of urinary incontinence include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor. There are many effective treatments available, but the first step is getting an accurate diagnosis.
To diagnose urinary incontinence, your urologist will likely:
These exams help identify the type of incontinence and contributing factors. Your doctor can then recommend the best treatment options.
Treatments for urinary incontinence include:
Your urologist will discuss which treatments may help provide relief based on your specific case.
If you experience any leaking of urine, don’t ignore it. See your doctor for an evaluation, testing and treatment options. Treating incontinence can significantly improve your quality of life. You don’t have to be embarrassed or just live with it. Help is available.