Types of Male Incontinence
There are many types of urinary incontinence. Knowing which type you are experiencing will help your urologist diagnose and treat your underlying problem.
- Stress incontinence is urinary leakage during physical activity, coughing, laughing, or sneezing.
- Urge incontinence occurs when you feel an immediate need to urinate and release urine before you reach the toilet.
- Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
- Overflow incontinence is urinary leakage that occurs because your bladder never empties. This may signal the presence of an enlarged prostate or urethral stricture.
Testing for Male Incontinence
Urinary incontinence in men may be due to an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer treatment. It can be a sign of nerve damage or injury, diabetes, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. Because there are many potential causes, your doctor will conduct an extensive medical evaluation and gather details about your medical history. The following tests may be performed to help your doctor identify the best treatment for your condition.
A urine test checks the appearance and acidity of your urine and looks for any abnormal substances like blood or too much protein. It can identify or rule out a bladder infection as the cause of your symptoms.
Post-Void Residual Urine Test
After you urinate, your urologist uses an ultrasound to see how much urine is left in your bladder. This can indicate if a blockage is present.
During this urodynamic test, your doctor inserts a catheter through your urethra to measure pressure in your bladder and abdomen. This test can indicate how well your bladder stores and releases urine.
Male Incontinence Treatments
Urinary incontinence treatment options range from at-home exercises to surgery. Once your urologist determines the underlying cause, he or she will recommend the least invasive treatment first. Surgery isn’t typically needed unless your incontinence is chronic or severe and other options have been exhausted.
Muscle-Building and Non-Invasive Options
Bladder training and Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and may be effective in reducing urinary incontinence. Your doctor may also recommend biofeedback procedures, which use a mild electrical current to stimulate the nerves in your bladder and pelvic floor. These options may help you strengthen and control your pelvic muscles.
Depending on the type of incontinence and its underlying cause, your doctor may prescribe medication to relax the bladder and prevent abnormal spasms. This will make it easier to control urination.
Artificial Urinary Sphincter
An artificial urinary sphincter works by mimicking your own urinary sphincter, the muscle that controls the flow of urine out of your bladder. It’s placed during surgery and works by keeping your urethra closed until you want to urinate. Your urologist will train you to operate a pump in your scrotum to control your urination.
To reposition your urethra, a synthetic, mesh-like tape is surgically placed through a small incision. The sling elevates and supports your urethra so your sphincter muscle can function properly. It works best in men whose own urinary sphincter muscles don’t work properly due to a loss of support after prostate removal. It does not work well in men whose sphincter is scarred.
Conditions Related to Male Incontinence
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (Enlarged Prostate)
Side effects of an enlarged prostate can make your bladder overactive, which in turn may cause urinary incontinence. Your urologist may conduct a urine test and rectal exam to check your prostate and get a more complete idea of what’s causing your incontinence.
A urethral stricture can make it difficult to empty your bladder and affect your ability to urinate in a controlled way. Sometimes surgical repair of an urethral stricture also causes incontinence.