Secure online access to Cleveland Clinic's specialists for over 1,200 medical diagnoses, nutritional consultation and pre-adoption advice

Cleveland Clinic News  The latest from our experts

Men: Don’t Let Incontinence Slow You Down

Overactive BladderThere are different reasons you might have male urinary incontinence, ranging from surgical side effects to overactive bladder. Fortunately, several treatment options can help relieve it.

Incontinence happens when your bladder’s sphincter muscle is not strong enough to hold back the urine. It can also occur when your bladder muscles contract too strongly or your bladder gets too full before you void.

Incontinence common after prostate surgery

Research shows one of the most common causes of incontinence in men is a side effect of a prostatectomy, a surgical procedure that removes all or part of the prostate gland.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, incontinence is the primary side effect of a prostatectomy, and roughly 25 percent of men report frequent leakage or no control and a need to use absorbent pads at six months after treatment. Fortunately, fewer than 10 percent of patients report using pads at all three years after surgery.

After a surgeon removes the entire gland — in a radical prostatectomy — surgery also can treat your incontinence through a procedure that implants a male sling or artificial urinary sphincter.

“Sometimes incontinence occurs after transurethral resection of the prostate, which is the removal of the inner part of the prostate for a benign disease,” says urologist Drogo Montague, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Genitourinary Reconstruction.

“The treatment is the same, but the chance of incontinence after that lesser procedure is about half of 1 percent or 1 out of 200 men.”

Other causes and treatments