Types and causes

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

You're not alone

Urine 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 urine leakage.

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


It just felt good to know that I'm not alone.


What causes urine leakage?

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 urine leakage are:

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

As you can see, the cause of urine leakage 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.


"Do I have to stop drinking coffee forever?"

Not necessarily. Depending on what type of urine leakage you're dealing with, changes in your habits and behaviour can reduce the symptoms.

Questions about urine leakage

Common types

Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is also known as an "overactive bladder" and it's the most common type of urine leakage. 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 urine leakage, you may be dealing with stress incontinence. It is a condition that's most common in men who've recently had prostate surgery.

After dribble

This is when a few drops of urine leak after you've been to the toilet, even if you've 'waited and shaken'. There are two types of after dribble, 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. It's usually caused by something obstructing the flow of urine, causing the bladder to overflow and then leak.

Tips and advice

The best ways to stay in control

Stirling on urine leakage

Exercise control

Learn about the exercises that can help you stay in control.

Exercises to help with urine leakage and incontinence

Ask Dr Hilary Jones

Got a question? Ask Dr Hilary Jones or why not check out the most common questions on urine leakage.

Ask Doctor Hilary Jones


I don't want my colleagues to spot my used pads in the toilet bin, so I wrap them in toilet paper before I dispose of them.


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