How to Combat Stress Incontinence in Men

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How to Combat Stress Incontinence in Men


Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder control, leading to accidental urine leaks. It’s also known as bladder leakage or sometimes informally as ‘a weak bladder’.

We often think of incontinence as primarily a women’s issue, but it is more common in men than most people imagine. One man out of every five is likely to experience some degree of involuntary bladder leakage in their lifetime.  


The most common forms of incontinence are called urge and stress incontinence. Stress incontinence is also known as stress urinary incontinence or urinary stress incontinence, and urge incontinence is also known as urgency incontinence. Find out more about other types of incontinence in our blog What Kind of Incontinence Do You Have?

Despite its name, stress incontinence has nothing to do with psychological stress, but occurs when actions such as coughing, laughing, running or heavy lifting put strain on the bladder, allowing urine to escape.  

Urge incontinence, on the other hand, is caused by overactivity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder. People with Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB) feel the need to urinate frequently throughout the day and night, and often experience a sudden and uncontrollable impulse to urinate. When this unintentional urination occurs it is known as urge incontinence.  


Stress urinary incontinence is usually the result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles or problems with the urethral sphincter, which controls the release of urine. Urine leakage happens when quick or sudden movements, such as sneezing or jumping, put pressure on the bladder.

You are more likely to experience stress urinary incontinence if you have the following risk factors:

  • Increasing age – urinary incontinence is more common in older people
  • Obesity and lack of physical activity
  • Medical history including prostate cancer treatment
  • Underlying conditions such as constipation or chronic cough
  • Neurological issues such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • Certain medications
  • A family history of urinary incontinence
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking


Prostate cancer treatment is one of the most common causes of urinary incontinence in men. It’s common to experience heavy bladder leakage immediately following prostate removal. This usually reduces over time, but approximately 70% of men are still experiencing stress incontinence symptoms six months after having a radical prostatectomy. About 40% of men are still having bladder control problems six months after radiotherapy treatment. Read our beginner’s guide to prostate cancer, a prostate doctor’s expert advice and one man’s prostate journey on our blog.


There are various options available for treating stress incontinence, depending on the cause and severity of your urinary leakage. It’s a good idea to start with non-invasive treatment options first. See your doctor for personalised advice on the stress incontinence treatment that’s right for you.

Pelvic floor exercises

Also known as kegel exercises, these aim to strengthen the pelvic floor to help you regain bladder control. They involve contracting and holding the pelvic floor muscles in a mini-workout several times a day. It’s important that you get the technique right, so consult our Beginner’s Guide to Kegels blog or see a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor health.

Drugs and medications for incontinence

Various different medications are available to help reduce or prevent incontinence. See your doctor for help finding the best medicine for bladder control to suit your circumstances.

Urethral bulking injections

This is a less-invasive form of treatment for stress incontinence than surgery. It involves injecting bulking agents into the tissue around the urethra to keep it closed and reduce leakage.

Surgical options for incontinence treatment

If your urinary incontinence is ongoing to a degree that it is affecting your quality of life, your doctor may recommend options such as a male sling, where the urethra is compressed to prevent leaks, or an artificial urinary sphincter, where a cuff and pump are used to open and close the urethra.


If you have only mild incontinence, or if you suspect it may be temporary (for example following prostate cancer treatment or as a result of an UTI infection), you may choose to try to minimise your urine drips and dribbles through non-invasive means and lifestyle changes.


Bladder retraining

Some men find that bladder retraining, where you slowly lengthen the time between toilet visits, helps to reboot the cognitive pathways that may be blocking improvement. A good place to start is by keeping a record of your current situation so you can discuss it with your doctor and make a retraining plan. See our blog to find out more and download your free Bladder Training Diary.

Double voiding

Another handy technique worth trying, especially if you find that a little pee still comes out after you’re done urinating, is to pee once, then wait a couple of minutes before trying again. This helps fully empty your bladder and might mean you don’t wake up in the night to pee.

Manage what you drink

You might wonder if drinking less will reduce your urge to pee as often. The answer is yes and no. Drinking less water will not help incontinence, as dehydration can irritate the bladder and make you pass urine even more frequently. In fact, if you have been reducing your water intake you might find drinking more water helps incontinence. But when it comes to other fluids, including coffee, tea, fizzy drinks and alcohol, there’s good evidence that these can aggravate the bladder or stimulate urine production. Find out more in our blog Will Drinking Less Fix My Incontinence?

Avoid trigger foods for incontinence

It’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, but there are some foods you may want to avoid if you find that they trigger your leaks. Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, spicy foods, such as curries and chilli, and diuretics, such as chocolate, are all foods that can trigger urinary incontinence. Find out more on our blog Four Health Foods That Could Be Triggering Your Leaks.

Exercises to help manage incontinence

Being overweight is a risk factor for incontinence because the extra weight you’re carrying puts additional pressure on the bladder. Getting active is essential for your mental and physical health, but the problem is that fear of leaks might put you off exercising. For our top tips on ways to feel confident about exercising with incontinence see our blog Eeek I Leak When I Exercise. And for five simple exercises that you can do at home today, read our blog Five Essential Exercises for Over 50s.

Prevent constipation

Constipation can add to the problem of urinary incontinence by putting additional pressure on the bladder. Straining to poop can also weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor. For tips on avoiding incontinence read our blog Is Constipation Causing Your Incontinence? 

Men’s reusable incontinence underwear

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, there’s no escaping the signs and symptoms of stress incontinence. That’s when a high-performing pair of male incontinence underwear can give you the confidence and security you need to get on with life despite it.

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