Our friends at Abena have produced a really helpful leaflet with advice on incontinence issues for men – and with their kind permission, we are able to share some of the content with you. We hope you find it useful:

Firstly, just what is incontinence?

  • It is an involuntary bladder and/or bowel movement resulting in an accidental loss of urine and/or faeces, the amount lost can vary.
  • Incontinence is NOT a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition.
  • Between 3 and 6 million people in the UK are estimated to be regularly incontinent.
  • 1 in 9 men will suffer incontinence at some point in their lives.

Facts about your bladder:

  • The average bladder holds between 300ml and 600 ml of urine. That’s similar to a standard size can of fizzy drink.
  • The main function of the bladder is to store and release urine from the body.
  • The average person passes approximately 1.5 litres to 2 litres of urine in a 24 hour period.
  • If the muscles supporting the bladder become weak you may develop stress incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises could help improve stress incontinence.

The different types of incontinence:

  1. STRESS URINARY INCONTINENCE: This is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles where urine may leak from the bladder when coughing, sneezing, carrying out exercise, or even laughing. In men, pelvic floors can become weak following surgery for an enlarged prostate gland, however, with medical advice, in most cases, this type of incontinence can be treated, or improved considerably.
  2. URGE INCONTINENCE / OVERACTIVE BLADDER: Urine may leak following a very strong urge to pass urine. Leakage can range from a small amount to a full emptying of the bladder.
  3. MIXED INCONTINENCE: A combination of stress and urge incontinence.
  4. OVERFLOW / OUTFLOW OBSTRUCTION: Commonly linked to a blockage, for example, an enlarged prostate or a neurological problem. There may be a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder or persistent urine leakage. Leakage can range from a small amount to a full emptying of the bladder.
  5. FUNCTIONAL INCONTINENCE: Can result from physical, cognitive or environmental difficulties where you are unable to reach the toilet in time; leakage can vary.
  6. FAECAL INCONTINENCE: An involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool, ranging from a smear to a full bowel movement.

Myths and truths!

  • Incontinence is a disease and can’t be cured.
    MYTH! Incontinence is not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying illness. It is not an inevitable part of ageing and with the correct medical advice and support 80% of urinary incontinence can be cured or dramatically improved (NHS Choices).
  • Pelvic floor exercises are something that just women do.
    MYTH! Men also have pelvic floor muscles that can become weak and cause urinary incontinence, therefore exercising these muscles is often recommended (NHS UK).
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle will reduce the risk of urinary incontinence.
    TRUTH! Staying at a healthy weight and remaining active reduces the pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles. However, if you do begin to experience any form of continence issues then the best way to regain control is to consult your GP.
  • There are no specific male continence products available for me.
    MYTH!There is a wide range of products available including shaped pads, washable underwear and pull-ups.
  • Drinking less water will lower my risk of bladder leakage.
    MYTH!. It is important to keep hydrated. Limiting the consumption of caffeine, some fruit juices, carbonated drinks and alcohol can help to reduce irritation to the bladder, causing you to need to “go” less often. The BDA (the Association of UK Dieticians) recommend that adult men should drink at least 2 litres of water each day, but please speak to your GP if you have any concerns.
  • It isn’t possible to regain full control of my bladder following prostate surgery.
    MYTH!. You may continue to experience continence issues following surgery and should seek advice from your GP on treatment and management plans. Pelvic floor exercises, particularly after surgery to remove the prostate gland can help to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence.
  • Faecal incontinence only occurs when you can’t reach the toilet in time.
    MYTH! Faecal incontinence can also be leaking from the bowel that you are unaware of. It can be caused by a number of things, for example a spinal injury or multiple sclerosis.

Continence issues are not a disease but rather a symptom of an underlying condition. Therefore, with any type of continence issue, an assessment of bladder and/or bowel needs should be performed by a healthcare professional to establish an accurate diagnosis so that a treatment or management plan can be implemented.


The information in this blog has been compiled with the input of the Abena Nurse Advisor team and reproduced with the kind permission of Abena. Click through to our site for our range of Abena pads and fixation pants for men – or call us on 0800 389 3597 for advice on your needs. We’d be happy to help.