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What is overflow incontinence?

Urine leakage during the day and sometimes even at night, can be a sign of overflow incontinence. It happens when your bladder doesn’t empty itself, and the urine starts to leak out to compensate for this. Symptoms of bladder emptying issues, such as overflow incontinence, could include having difficulties with starting to urinate. You are usually able to go, but the flow is not what it used to be. You may also feel the need to go often, even at night.

Why does it happen?

Overflow urinary incontinence may be caused by urethral obstruction (prostate enlargement, fecal impaction, etc.) which makes it more difficult for the urine to pass. It can also be caused by an inactive bladder muscle, giving you trouble with squeezing properly, to empty the bladder. Other reasons for overflow incontinence could be nerve damage involving the nerves that control the bladder (diabetes, MS or injury) or side effects of some medications.

What can you do about it?

If you do have problems emptying your bladder properly, it is important to search professional help in order to avoid pressure of urine building up in the bladder and urinary tract which could also affect the kidneys. You can see a doctor, a physiotherapist or a continence nurse. Keep track of your toilet habits and bladder activity a couple of days before your appointment. That’s a good way to prepare for the visit and will make it easier for your healthcare professional to set a diagnosis.

In order to do so, your doctor or therapist will do a physical examination of you. The findings from this examination might lead you to other professionals, like seeing a urologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases in the urinary tract) or a neurologist if that’s necessary. When a proper diagnose is set your doctor will know the right treatment for you.

Temporary solutions

If you have problems emptying your bladder there are things you can do yourself to facilitate bladder emptying.


Always make sure you are in a proper position that makes bladder emptying easier and that you sit comfortably on the toilet with good support for your feet.

Double or triple voiding may help you with bladder emptying. This is done by first sitting down and voiding normally. Then, after finishing, you stand up and sit back down again. This can encourage more urine to pass through.

Catheter use

Sometimes your doctor will decide a catheter is needed in order to empty the bladder completely. A catheter is a very thin and flexible tube made of plastic that is carefully passed through the urethra and into the bladder to help empty it.

If you self-catheterize, the general recommendation is to empty the bladder at regular intervals. You can be taught to self-catheterize by your doctor or nurse. It’s a fairly simple process, and easy to keep private at work Learn how to manage incontinence at work or in other social situations as the single-use catheters are small enough to put in your pocket and easy to dispose after use.

Next steps

Normally, you will only need the catheter until you’ve got a diagnosis and the cause of obstruction has been treated, sometimes with surgery. Using incontinence pads or similar underwear solutions to catch leaks and protect your clothing is another thing you can easily do on your own.

“ Excellent product, I wear these 24/7 and have had no issue. I need these for both bladder and bowel incontinence issues and have never had a leak. ”

- TENA Super Brief User

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