Are there differences between male and female incontinence?

Are there differences between male and female incontinence?
20 March 2024

Are there differences between male and female incontinence?

Urinary incontinence (UI) is common amongst millions around the world, impacting quality of life regardless of your gender.

Even though both men and women can experience incontinence during their lifetimes, the risk factors can differ significantly. 

Women often encounter urine leakages due to pregnancy, childbirth, and the hormonal changes of menopause. Meanwhile, men's urinary incontinence frequently stems from prostate-related issues, particularly in those aged over 50.

Both men and women can suffer from various forms of UI, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, and mixed incontinence.

In this blog post, we will look at male and female incontinence,  how it affects men and women respectively, and how to treat it so everyone can enjoy a better quality of life. 

Understanding incontinence in women

Urinary incontinence in women can present as small leaks or full urine flow. Two main reasons contribute to incontinence in women, each tied to different aspects of health and lifestyle.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder. This pressure can weaken these muscles, leading to urinary incontinence. Childbirth, especially vaginal delivery, can stretch and damage the pelvic floor muscles and nerves that control the bladder, making it harder to hold urine.


During menopause, the body produces less oestrogen, a hormone that helps keep the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy. With lower oestrogen levels, these tissues may weaken, increasing the risk of urinary incontinence.

Understanding incontinence in men

Several key factors can contribute to urinary incontinence in men, many of which are related to the prostate gland. Here, we explore these reasons in more detail:

Prostate Gland Issues

The prostate gland plays a significant role in male urinary health. It is located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra - the tube through which urine exits the body. Problems with the prostate gland can lead to difficulty in urinating and, subsequently, incontinence.

Enlarged Prostate

An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is common in older men. As the prostate grows, it can press against the urethra, affecting the urine flow. This condition can cause symptoms like frequent urination, difficulty starting to urinate, and leakage of urine.

Prostate Surgery

Men who undergo prostate surgery, often to treat prostate cancer, may experience urinary incontinence as a side effect. Surgery can affect the muscles that control the bladder or damage the nerves around the prostate, leading to involuntary leakage of urine.

Risk factors for incontinence in men and women

Although men and women have different reasons behind their incontinence, there are also several shared risk factors that everyone should look out for.


As people get older, the muscles in the bladder and urethra lose some of their strength. Age-related changes can increase involuntary loss of urine, especially with stress incontinence, where coughing, sneezing, or laughing can cause leaks.

Overweight and Obesity

Extra weight increases pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles, weakening them and allowing urine to leak out when coughing or sneezing. Managing weight can help reduce the severity of urinary incontinence.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

UTIs can temporarily make incontinence worse by irritating the bladder, causing a strong urge to urinate more often. This type of incontinence usually improves once the infection is treated.

Chronic Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and neurological disorders, can affect the nerves that control the bladder, leading to issues with the storage and flow of urine.

Bladder Cancer

Though less common, bladder cancer can be a risk factor for incontinence in both men and women. Tumours or cancer treatments can affect the bladder's ability to store urine, leading to symptoms like the dribbling of urine or sudden, uncontrollable urges to urinate.

How can you treat incontinence?

Treating incontinence involves various strategies tailored to your needs and the specific type of incontinence you are experiencing. Here's a look at effective treatments and approaches:

Seek Medical Advice

The first step in treating incontinence is to seek medical advice. A healthcare professional can diagnose the type of incontinence you're experiencing and recommend appropriate treatment options. They can help identify the underlying causes of urine loss and guide you towards the best action.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Strengthening the pelvic muscles is crucial for managing incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help strengthen these muscles, providing better control over urine flow and reducing leakage. These exercises are practical for both men and women and are vital to any incontinence management plan.

Bladder Training

Bladder training involves learning to delay urination after feeling the urge to go. This method can help increase the bladder's capacity and improve control over urination. Bladder training is often recommended for those with urge incontinence or a mixed type of incontinence and can significantly reduce episodes of urine loss.

Incontinence Products

Incontinence pads and other products can provide comfort and confidence to incontinence patients. These products are designed to absorb urine, minimise odour, and protect clothing and bedding. Incontinence products are available in various sizes and absorbency levels to suit different needs.

Surgical Intervention

In cases where other treatments have not been effective, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgery can address the physical problems contributing to incontinence, such as an enlarged prostate in men or weakened pelvic muscles in women.

The specific type of surgery will depend on the underlying cause of incontinence and the patient's overall health.

Incontinence can be challenging, but many effective treatments are available. From pelvic floor exercises and bladder training to using incontinence products and, in some cases, surgical intervention, you can find relief from symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Manage incontinence confidently with Incontinence Shop

Whether you're a man or a woman, if you're struggling with incontinence and are seeking cost-effective solutions that improve your comfort and dignity, look no further than incontinence pads from Incontinence Shop.

When reliability is non-negotiable, our incontinence products excel in their absorbency.

Whether dealing with the sudden urge of urinary incontinence or episodes of faecal incontinence, our incontinence pads and pants offer reliable protection that minimises discomfort and maximises discretion.

And for prices lower than supermarket costs - even for the most premium brands like TENA and Drylife - Incontinence Shop is the best choice for those looking for incontinence products in bulk, such as carers of nursing home patients.

What's more, if you subscribe to your incontinence product of choice, you can enjoy 10% off every order and convenient doorstep delivery.