It’s a Guy Thing: Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Men
Written by Urologist and Sexual Health Expert Dr. Jennifer Berman
Urinary incontinence is not just a condition that affects women. Men are also at risk for bladder leaks and the older a man is, the more likely he is to experience them.
Incontinence is defined as the sudden involuntary loss of urine. Symptoms of incontinence in men depend on the cause for the condition. Stress incontinence results in the leakage of urine during activities that put pressure on the abdomen, like coughing, sneezing, laughing, and exercising. Urge incontinence is the sudden need to empty the bladder, along with frequency and nighttime urination, also known as nocturia. Symptoms of overflow incontinence include difficulty beginning urination (typically referred to as hesitancy) an inability to completely empty the bladder, a slow urine stream and/or dribbling or dripping urine after voiding.
Seventeen percent of men over age 60 in the United States experience some form of urinary incontinence. The primary cause for urinary incontinence in men in this age group is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or malignant prostate disease (prostate cancer) and the treatment for those conditions (i.e. prostate surgery or radiation therapy).
BPH most frequently affects aging men and is caused by the enlargement of the prostate gland surrounding the urethra and can be associated with urinary blockage, leakage, urgency, dribbling and flow problems.
Other causes for incontinence in men include medications (e.g., antidepressants, antihistamines) urinary tract infection (UTI) or prostate infection, Diabetes, pelvic radiation therapy, back injury or back surgery affecting the nerves to the bladder) neurological disorders such as stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease.
There are a variety of protective products available to manage male incontinence, including adult protective underwear. There are also many medical and surgical treatments. It is important that men speak to their health care providers if they are suffering from urine leakage of any type.
Urinary incontinence is a major health concern in men because it has a number of complications, including skin rashes, skin infections, and chronic urinary tract infections (UTI). Men suffering with urinary incontinence also frequently suffer in silence and experience a great deal of shame about the condition. This affects emotional wellbeing, relationships, daily activities, work, sleep and sexual function.
However, bladder leaks and the issues that come with them can be managed so you can continue living an active lifestyle. There are treatments available, products that are effective, and you are definitely not alone.