Types and causes

Urinary leakage and male incontinence can happen for a number of reasons. Learning what type of urinary leakage you're dealing with and what the cause is, can help you get closer to finding the right treatment for you.

You're not alone

Urinary leakage happens to 1 in 4 men*, making it a very common occurrence. Naturally, urinary leakage differs from man to man but regardless if you're dealing with just a few drops every now and then or you're dealing with larger leaks, you can rest assured in knowing that there's help available and there are ways to help you stay in control of urinary leakage.

* Based on survey conducted by Essity in 2012, with men over 40 in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Russia and Mexico. Data on file not published.

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What causes urinary leakage in men?

For the urinary system to do its job, the brain, muscles, and nerves need to work together to hold the urine in the bladder and not release it until you are ready. However, there are many factors that can interfere with this process.

Common causes for urinary leakage are:

  • Medication, such as diuretic medications can increase the risk of urinary leakage.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Temporarily weakened muscles due to prostate surgery.
  • Changes in prostate size, like a swollen prostate can obstruct urine from passing.
  • Being overweight puts extra pressure on abdominal and pelvic muscles, which makes it harder to avoid urinary leakage.
  • Diabetes or neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's for example).

As you can see, the cause of urinary leakage in men can depend on many factors. Therefore it's important to get a good assessment of your particular situation so you can get the right treatment. This means that it's important to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor.

Common types of male incontinence

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is also known as an "overactive bladder" and it's the most common type of urinary leakage that men suffer from. Urge incontinence is when you experience a sudden urge to urinate, but can't hold it in until you reach a toilet. You may need to urinate more than 4 to 8 times a day, as well as several times during the night. This is often linked to an enlarged prostate or the aftermath of prostate surgery.

Stress incontinence

If coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy weights usually results in urinary leakage, you may be dealing with stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is most common in men who've recently had prostate surgery.


This is when a few drops of urine leak after you've been to the bathroom, even if you've 'waited and shaken'. There are two types of after-dribble men experience, post-micturition dribble and terminal dribble. After-dribble happens because the bladder doesn't empty completely while you urinate. Instead, the urine accumulates in the tube leading from your bladder. A common cause for after-dribble is an enlarged prostate or weakened pelvic floor muscles.

Overflow incontinence

If you have a constant or intermittent flow of urine you might be dealing with overflow incontinence. For men, this is usually caused by something obstructing the flow of urine, causing the bladder to overflow and then leak.

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