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Overflow Incontinence - Topic Overview

What is overflow incontinence?

Overflow incontinence is the involuntary release of urine—due to a weak bladder muscle or to blockage—when the bladder becomes overly full, even though the person feels no urge to urinate.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of overflow incontinence include:

  • The sudden release of urine.
  • A feeling of fullness in the bladder even after urination.
  • Leakage of urine while sleeping.
  • A urine stream that stops and restarts during urination.
  • Difficulty urinating even while feeling the urge to urinate.

What causes overflow incontinence?

Overflow incontinence in both men and women can be caused by:

How is it treated?

In women

Women can be treated for overflow incontinence with:

  • A catheter. A catheter is a thin, flexible tube that allows urine to drain out. It is inserted into the bladder through the urethra. Different types of catheters include:
  • Surgery. Surgery may be needed to correct problems that cause overflow incontinence, such as obstructions or abnormal growths in the urinary tract.

Medicines are rarely used to treat overflow incontinence in women.

In men

Men can be treated for overflow incontinence with:

  • Surgery. Overflow incontinence caused by an enlarged prostate is often treated with surgery to remove the obstruction, including transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), a common procedure used to treat BPH.
  • A catheter. Some men may need a catheter to allow the bladder to empty normally.
  • Medicine. Medicines can be used to make the prostate smaller. This relieves pressure on the urethra so the bladder can empty more normally. Medicines can also help the urine flow better.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 11, 2012
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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