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Topic Overview

Urinary incontinence is the accidental leaking of urine. It's not a disease. It's a symptom of a problem with a man's urinary tractcamera.gif.

Urine is made by the kidneys and stored in a sac made of muscle, called the urinary bladder. A tube called the urethra 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:

  • If your bladder squeezes at the wrong time, or if it squeezes too hard, urine may leak out.
  • If the muscles around the urethra are damaged or weak, urine can leak out even if you don't have a problem with your bladder squeezing at the wrong time.
  • If your bladder doesn't empty when it should, you are left with too much urine in the bladder. If the bladder gets too full, urine will leak out when you don't want it to.
  • If something is blocking your urethra, urine can build up in the bladder. This can cause leaking.

Urinary incontinence happens more often in older men than in young men. But it's not just a normal part of aging.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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