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Urinary Incontinence in Men: Diagnosis, Symptoms and Treatment

Function of the brain and bladder

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. It tends to increase with age, but it shouldn’t be considered a normal part of aging. Although, urinary incontinence is very common in women, unfortunately, men also suffer from urinary incontinence. Although stressful and potentially embarrassing, urinary incontinence in men is very treatable.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence (UI)

Urinary incontinence can be classified into four different types, based on symptoms. These include:

  • Overflow incontinence: urine dribbles uncontrollably with a full bladder.
  • Stress incontinence: urine is accidentally lost during “physically stressful” actions such as running, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Urge incontinence: After feeling the overwhelming urge to urinate, urine is involuntarily lost.
  • Mixed incontinence: Signs of both stress and urge incontinence are present.


Urinary Incontinence (UI) and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Urinary incontinence is generally caused by the inability of certain nerves to communicate with the bladder, and vice versa. Nerve problems and chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cancer can cause UI, as well as problems with the prostate. If a patient suffers from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the flow and retention of urine may occur. Additionally, men that have undergone treatment for prostate cancer, such as surgical removal (radical prostatectomy) or radiation treatment may experience severe, unwanted urinary consequences.

Urinary Incontinence (UI) Diagnosis

The doctor will ask questions in order to properly diagnose UI. These questions may include time periods of urination, urination during the night, whether effort needs to be exerted in order to begin urination, whether there is a weak urine stream, or the sensation that the bladder is not completely empty.

The doctor may suggest a log to record urination frequency, amount, leakage, sensations and daily fluid intake. The doctor may also perform a physical exam, order laboratory tests, and a manual prostate exam. This will give the doctor a good idea of how large the prostate is, and narrow down the root of the symptoms. An ultrasound may also be required, as well as urodynamic tests (which measure the bladder pressures and how much fluid the bladder can store and then release). This test can give useful information about the bladder, surrounding muscles, and communication between the bladder, muscles, and nerves.