incontinence is the accidental leaking of urine. It's not a disease. It's a
symptom of a problem with a man's
Urine is made by the
kidneys and stored in a sac made of muscle, called the
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
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.
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:
- Stress incontinence
means that you leak urine when you sneeze, cough, laugh, lift something, change position, or do something that puts
stress or strain on your bladder.
- Urge incontinence is an urge to urinate that's so strong that
you can't make it to the toilet in time. It also happens when your bladder
squeezes when it shouldn't. This can happen even when you have only a small
amount of urine in your bladder. Overactive bladder is a kind of urge
incontinence. But not everyone with an overactive bladder leaks urine.
- Overflow incontinence means that you have the urge to urinate, but you can release only a small amount. Since your
bladder doesn't empty as it should, it then leaks urine later.
- Total incontinence means that you are always leaking urine.
It happens when the sphincter muscle no longer works.
- Functional incontinence means that you can't
make it to the bathroom in time to urinate. This is usually because something
got in your way or you were not able to walk there on your own.