Causes Of Stress Incontinence In Men

Stress incontinence occurs when specific physical movements cause involuntary urine leakage. As the term implies, physical stress triggers unwanted urine flow. Stress incontinence occurs when the urinary sphincter and the pelvic floor muscles are not strong enough to close the urethra. While the condition occurs more commonly in women, it can also present a problem in men. By learning about the various causes of stress incontinence in men, you can better understand this condition and how to treat it.

Prostate Enlargement

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the enlargement of the prostate gland, but it is not cancerous. The risk of developing the condition increases with age. Most men will eventually experience some enlargement as they reach advanced years.

The prostate gland lies adjacent to the urinary sphincter and completely envelops a portion of the urethra. As it enlarges, it may start to compromise the typical shape of the urethra. As a result, some men with benign prostatic hyperplasia have difficulties related to the urinary system, including stress incontinence and difficult urination.

Prostate Surgery

Prostatectomy may either resect a portion of the prostate blocking urine flow or remove the entire gland. However, the procedure to gain access to the prostate and remove tissue can damage the pelvic floor muscles, given their proximity to the gland. These muscles can weaken, leading to stress incontinence.

Newer techniques, such as robot-assisted prostatectomy, allow for smaller incisions and more precise movements, minimizing collateral effects. With more precise surgical methods, you can significantly reduce the risk of any complications.


Aside from the correlation between age and prostate enlargement, aging also has other impacts on the health of the urinary system. Muscles tend to weaken over time, and the pelvic floor muscles are no exception. As your muscles lose strength, your chance of having a stress incontinence incident increases.

Fortunately, weakening to the point of dysfunction is not inevitable. Exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles, called Kegel exercises, can help you retain strength and muscle tone.


Obesity puts excess mechanical stress on the body. In particular, excess fat among the abdominal organs means that the pelvic floor has to support more weight. Increased pressure on the pelvic area can be enough to exceed the strength of the urinary sphincter, causing stress incontinence.

People with stress incontinence often have to make lifestyle changes as part of their treatment plan. They aim to lose excess weight, underscoring the impact of obesity on stress incontinence.

High Impact Activities

With a weakened pelvic floor, movements that increase mechanical stress can cause urine to leak. Therefore, high impact activities involving running or jumping can cause sudden increases in bladder pressure. For patients who already have stress incontinence, low impact exercises can bring the same benefits of exercise without the risk of stress incontinence.


Many smokers develop a chronic cough. Coughing temporarily increases internal abdominal pressure. As such, smoking is a risk factor for developing stress incontinence.

Men’s Healthcare in North Carolina

The underlying mechanisms leading to stress incontinence involve pelvic floor muscle weakness and increased mechanical stress on the pelvic organs. Male-specific conditions like prostate enlargement and general factors like age and lifestyle choices can cause stress incontinence. For men at risk of this condition, working with a trusted provider of men’s healthcare can lead to better treatments and improve your quality of life.

Dr. Richard Natale is a trusted urologist oriented towards men’s health issues, including stress incontinence. With offices in Mint Hill and Concord, our staff brings expertise and compassion to provide patients with optimal healthcare. Call us at (704) 786-5131 or schedule an appointment, so we can answer all your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!


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