Urinary incontinence is the accidental release of urine. It’s not a disease. It’s a symptom of a problem with a man’s urinary tract.
Urine is made by the kidneysClick here to see more information. and stored in a sac made of muscle, called the urinary bladderClick here to see more information.. A tube called the urethraClick here to see more information. leads from the bladder through the prostate and penis to the outside of the body. Around this tube is a ring of muscles called the urinary sphincter. As the bladder fills with urine, nerve signals tell the sphincter to stay squeezed shut while the bladder stays relaxed. The nerves and muscles work together to prevent urine from leaking out of the body.
When you have to urinate, the nerve signals tell the muscles in the walls of the bladder to squeeze. This forces urine out of the bladder and into the urethra. At the same time the bladder squeezes, the urethra relaxes. This allows urine to pass through the urethra and out of the body.
Incontinence can happen for many reasons:
Urinary incontinence happens more often in older men than in young men, but it’s not just a normal part of aging.
Urinary incontinence can be short-term or long-lasting (chronic). Short-term incontinence is often caused by other health problems or treatments. This topic is about the different types of chronic urinary incontinence:
Different types of incontinence have different causes.
In men, incontinence is often related to prostate problems or treatments.
Drinking alcohol can make urinary incontinence worse. Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs such as diuretics, antidepressants, sedatives, narcotics, or non-prescription cold and diet medicines can also affect your symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
The most common sign of urinary incontinence is leaking urine from the bladder. Other signs will depend on the type of urinary incontinence you have.
Your doctor will do a physical exam, ask questions about your symptoms and past health, and test your urine. Often this is enough to help the doctor find the cause of the incontinence. You may need other tests if the incontinence is caused by more than one problem or if the cause is unclear.
How is it treated?
Treatments are different for each person. They depend on the type of incontinence you have and how much it affects your life. After your doctor knows what has caused the incontinence, your treatment may include medicines, simple exercises, or both. A few men need surgery, but most do not.
There are also some things you can do at home. In many cases, these lifestyle changes can be enough to control incontinence.
If you have symptoms of urinary incontinence, don't be embarrassed to tell your doctor. Most people with incontinence can be helped or cured.