Male Incontinence: Understand Urinary Incontinence and Find the Right Product Solution for Urinary Leakage

Male urinary incontinence is more common than you may think. Approximately one in 20 men over the age of 18, and one in 10 men over the age of 60 have symptoms of urinary incontinence.** Whether it's just a few drops or bigger leakages, urinary incontinence can be very frustrating, stressful and negatively impact quality of life. It's worth taking seriously and discussing with your healthcare professional. There are many product solutions that can help you feel confident and secure in your daily life. In this article, we cover the basics of incontinence in men, introduce you to the urinary system and look into different product solutions that can help relieve your experience with urinary incontinence.


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What is Male Urinary Incontinence?

Involuntary urinary incontinence is the medical term for lack of bladder control, meaning you are leaking urine. There are different types of male urinary incontinence, which we will cover below; however, each type of bladder control issue can be caused by different factors, diseases or physical challenges.

What Causes Male Incontinence?

There are many different causes of incontinence that can affect men of all ages. Some of the common reasons for urinary incontinence in men include:

  1. Demographic Factors - age, race / ethnicity, family history

  2. Lifestyle - alcohol, diet, obesity, smoking, impaired physical function

  3. Medical Conditions - chronic cough, constipation, diabetes, heart failure, urinary tract infection.

  4. Neurologic Conditions - Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, Stroke, Sleep apnea, spinal cord injury.

  5. Medications

  6. Prostate Surgery

  7. Enlargement of the prostate and / or prostate cancer.

What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

Always consult with a health care professional with any concerns to understand the symptoms of urinary incontinence. We have to distinguish between the different types of urinary incontinence as they differ slightly.  Keeping track of your urinary habits can help your doctor or healthcare professional determine the type of urinary incontinence. Some of the most common types of male urinary incontinence are:

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI)

Involuntary urine leakage when you sneeze, cough or exercise are typical signs of stress incontinence. These sudden movements or outbursts put pressure on the bladder and urethral sphincter. In short, stress incontinence can be the result of a weak urethral sphincter muscle. Your urethral sphincter usually prevents urine from leaving your bladder. If it's weakened, you'll likely experience urine leakage whenever there's too much pressure on the sphincter muscle.

Typically, men experience stress incontinence due to sphincter or nerve trauma related to prostate surgery. Stress urinary incontinence is often treated with pelvic floor exercises and rehab, surgical interventions, or containment pads and products.  Talk to your healthcare professional about the options best for your individual symptoms.

Urge urinary incontinence (UUI)

Overactive bladder (OAB) and urge incontinence are in fact the same thing.  They both are defined by symptoms only.  The patient complains of urinary urgency, frequency, with and without dribbling of urine or complete bladder emptying before reaching the toilet.  These symptoms negatively impact daily activities, sleeping, and social interactions. Some of these men actually have involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle resulting in the same symptoms as mentioned.  However, when the healthcare professional tests the bladder and finds actual involuntary contractions of the bladder it is now called detrusor overactivity.

Mixed incontinence

Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence, and experienced when sneezing, coughing or exercising.

Overflow incontinence

Men with overflow incontinence often experience symptoms similar to stress incontinence.  However, the cause of overflow leakage is related to incomplete bladder emptying either due to bladder obstruction or weak bladder contraction strength.  Imagine a bucket filled to the top with water, and each time you move it, water spills over the top.  When the bladder is consistently overfilled, you can experience leakage with movement, coughing, sneezing, laughing, and leaning forward, for example.  Ask your HCP about bladder testing to establish the cause for overflow incontinence.

Functional incontinence

Functional incontinence means losing control of your bladder, usually due to another medical condition that prevents you from reaching the toilet in time. You may experience smaller leakages or dribbles or at times fully empty your bladder involuntarily. Some of the conditions that may cause functional incontinence include:

  • Cognitive disorders that affect your brain's ability to process thoughts and take action, including dementia, delirium and intellectual disabilities

  • Conditions that affect your brain, spinal cord or nerve signals (neurological disorders), including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease

  • Conditions that affect your muscles and make it hard or impossible to get to the bathroom or remove clothing, like severe arthritis

Male Incontinence treatment

Maintaining a healthy weight and watching your diet can help relieve symptoms of urinary incontinence

Speak with your healthcare professional if you are experiencing urinary incontinence; it's only normal to search for ways to control urination as it can feel very invasive and be a stress factor in daily life. Talk to your healthcare professional as this is a relatively common issue and you do not have to suffer in silence. A healthcare professional can help you find the right treatment to help reduce, correct, or control your symptoms. There are a few treatment options to help relieve your symptoms. Some men are able to regain continence once they have a diagnosis and commence the recommended treatment plan. However, it is possible to manage incontinence through common solutions such as absorbents, protective underwear, pads, sheaths and urine bags. The right treatment and product solution depends on what type of urinary incontinence you are experiencing, as stress incontinence can require a different treatment from urge incontinence or overflow incontinence. Remember to always consult with your doctor to find the right solution for your urinary problems, as they can carry out a physical exam and also take your medical history into account, which is important for any diagnosis.

  1. Pelvic floor exercises (also called Kegel exercises): Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is an efficient and non-invasive method to help regain continence. Kegel exercises are considered a very effective treatment when it comes to urinary incontinence, and doesn't require any equipment. Go to our section on Kegel exercises to learn how to perform Kegel exercises and train your pelvic floor.

  2. Bladder training: Bladder training involves training your bladder muscles and can include scheduled and systemized toilet visits as well as double voiding to ensure complete bladder emptying every time you urinate. Maintaining a bladder diary can be a helpful supplement to this training.

  3. Lifestyle & diet: Your weight can play an important part in managing urinary incontinence. An unhealthy diet and excess weight is an increased risk to developing urinary incontinence or make urinary incontinence worse due to excess pressure on the bladder. Maintain a healthy weight to minimize risk. Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and should be avoided if you suffer from urinary incontinence. Avoid acidic foods and eliminate or minimize your intake of alcoholic beverages or beverages containing caffeine such as tea, coffee, energy drinks or soda.

  4. Surgery: Severe urinary incontinence or chronic urinary incontinence may require surgery. A common type of surgery is replacing a damaged or weakened sphincter with an artificial sphincter to control urine flow. Male sling procedures are another type of surgery to treat incontinence in men. This type of surgery involves placing an artificial sling to tighten the urethra.

Where can I get more advice about male urinary incontinence?

Your healthcare professional is the best place to go for advice if you experience urinary incontinence. It might seem embarrassing to discuss your incontinence but healthcare professionals are used to dealing with intimate problems and will have seen many men with incontinence. Your healthcare professional will be able to identify the type of incontinence that affects you and if necessary refer you to a urology clinic or continence specialist.

Product solutions for male urinary incontinence

Male urinary incontinence is often treated using absorbent pads or adult diapers. However, if you're looking for alternative solutions that are less big and bulky, Coloplast's Conveen® Male range may be for you. The Conveen range includes a wide variety of male external catheters (sometimes called condom catheters or urisheaths) and collecting bags (urine bags), and offers an alternative to diapers or absorbent products to help relieve you from the stress of urine leakage.

If you have questions or concerns and would like advice on which products might be best for you, please contact us at 1-800-231-2371.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice and should not be interpreted to contain treatment recommendations. You should rely on the healthcare professional who knows your individual history for personal medical advice and diagnosis.

External catheter
Conveen bag

1. Choose a male external catheter (MEC)

  • Worn over the penis

  • Available in a range of sizes to ensure secure fit


2. Choose a bag

  • Worn on the thigh or calf

  • Several sizes to chose from, depending on your individual needs


3. Customize your solution

  • MEC connects to a urine-collection bag

  • Urine is channeled into bag and contained discreetly and securely

  • Urine is emptied at your convenience

Tips for Troubleshooting Male External Catheters (MEC)

FAQs about Male External Catheters

Are you having troubles finding the right size or understanding how to apply a male external catheter? Discover our FAQs and troubleshooting guide. Read more FAQs and view guide

FAQs on Troubleshooting Male External Catheters (MEC)


Q: My male external catheter falls off or does not stay on

A: If your MEC doesn't stay on, it could be caused by a few things. First, ensure that you are using the correct size MEC by downloading, printing and using our sizing guide. The wrong size can impact your experience with MECs, so it's important to find the right fit. Make sure you don't have extra material at the base of the penis. This could mean that the catheter is too long. You should make sure that the catheter fits securely to the shaft of your penis with no extra space or material. If it doesn't, it could also be that the circumference of the catheter is too large. Also, be sure to use a MEC made of 100% silicone.

Q: Can I use oil or cream based products on my penis before application?

A: No. These products may interfere with the adhesive of the MEC and could cause it to fall off. Instead, cleanse the penis with warm soap and water before applying the MEC. You should not apply any lanolin, oils, or cream based products prior to MEC application.

Q: I use a latex MEC product. Why would I use a MEC made of another material? 

A latex MEC may not adhere as properly as other MECs made of different material. An MEC of 100% silicone allows the skin to breathe which may reduce skin moisture build up making it easier for the MEC to stay on.

Q: What if the connector from my urine bag to my MEC causes leakage?

First, make sure that the connector is fully advanced into the tip of the catheter. If the connector is attached correctly, the tip of the catheter may twist and turn which may cause leakage. It may also cause the tip of the catheter to be pinched which could mean urine is unable to drain in the leg bag and therefore "backflows" into the catheter also causing leakage.

Q: Why is the skin at the tip of my penis red? 

Check to see that the penis is not placed too far into the reservoir section of the catheter. If the penis is advanced too far down, twisting and turning of the catheter tip could cause skin abrasion and possible exposure to the connector.


See below for more troubleshooting tips

Troubleshooting Male External Catheters

Problem Possible Issue Suggestion  General Info

Male external catheter

does not stay on

Improper sizing


length or both)

Use product specific measuring to determine proper fit

• Circumference – determine correct mm size

• Length – determine correct length(standard or sport)

Improper fit (length or circumference) can interfere with proper application of catheter.

• Length too long = excess material sitting at base of penis and during daily movement or retraction issues,the catheter may roll off

• Circumference too large = can leave excess material wrinkles allowing urine to leak back up shaft and loosen adhesive

Male external catheter

does not stay on

Use of lanolin, oil or cream based products Do not apply any lanolin, oils or cream based products to the genital area Oils, creams and lotions can interfere with the adhesive properties and result in the catheter falling off

Male external catheter

does not stay on

Latex MEC product Use MEC made of 100% silicone 100% silicone allows the skin to breathe which may reduce skin moisture build-up resulting in optimal contact and performance.
Catheter has wrinkles Improper sizing(circumference) Use measuring guide to determine proper “circumference” fit The recommendation is to adjust the size.
Catheter/catheter tip torques Connector not fully advanced into catheter tip Ensure that urine collection tubing/connector is fully advanced into the catheter tip Incomplete advancement of connector into catheter tip allows twisting and turning of the catheter tip. Potential for urine back flow due to pinching of tip and may result in the disconnection resulting in accidental urine leakage


Skin Issues

Problem Possible Issue Suggestion General Info
Skin at tip of penis is red Penis advanced too far into the reservoir of catheter Review application diagram of proper placement of penis within catheter Penis placed too far into reservoir section of catheter leaves it open to possible abrasion of the twisting & turning of the tip of the catheter and possible exposure to the connector.
Skin at tip of penis is red Improper application

Ensure that the penis properly placed within the catheter

• Never too far down into the reservoir

• Never too far up, leaving a lot of excess (floppy) catheter material at tip of penis

Improper application may result in the penis coming too close to the connector within the catheter tip
Skin on shaft of penis is red Allergic reaction Individuals with allergies may prefer to apply a skin barrier product to the skin prior to application of the MEC A barrier offers a shield to prevent the adhesive from actually touching the skin.
Skin on shaft of penis is red Improper sizing

Use measuring guide to determine proper fit

• Circumference – determine correct mm size

• Length – determine correct length(standard or sport)

Catheters that are not properly sized can lead to skin issues

• Too small – skin is being constricted, lack of blood flow

• Too big (circumference) – leaves excess material causing wrinkles in catheter allowing urine to flow back and irritate skin

• Too long – urine can pool at tip of catheter and eventually work its way back up the shaft of the penis, irritating the skin


Guide to applying Conveen® Optima male external catheters

Read and view a guide for applying male external catheters. Read and view guide

Applying a Male external catheter

How to apply a Conveen® Optima male external catheter and leg bag

Note:These are abbreviated instructions. Before using this product, carefully read the product labeling. Do not use if the product or package is damaged. The product below shows a single-use device.



Applying the male external catheter


Use the sizing guide to ensure a proper fit of the Male external catheter

Always measure for correct size

(both circumference and length with

appropriate measuring guide for specific product)

Opening the male external catheter Flip open the pack using your thumb nail to break the seal.
remove catheter from package

Remove the catheter from the package and place it over the head of the penis.
Leave a small space between the end of the penis and the narrow catheter outlet.

Uncircumcised users should leave the foreskin in place over the head of the penis.

male external catheter application

Pull the double grip strip to slowly unroll the catheter

all the way up the length of the penis. The catheter should unroll smoothly and evenly.

squeeze catheter to apply

Gently squeeze the catheter around the shaft of the penis (approx. 1 min.)

to ensure a secure fit. To reduce the risk of skin irritation, allow the skin

on the penis to breathe for short periods in between male external catheter changes.


Connecting the Urine Bag

Connecting the MEC to the Urine bag Connect a urine collecting bag to the catheter by fully inserting the tubing connector into the external catheter outlet. Push together firmly for a secure connection.


Removing the male external catheter

Removing the male external catheter Removal is easy and painless. The catheter can be removed by detaching the catheter from the urine bag connector and carefully rolling it off the penis. If you need to, use warm soapy water to help remove the catheter. It can then be disposed of in the trash, with general household waste. Finish by washing your hands. Change the male external catheter everyday and change the bag according to recommendations from your healthcare professional.


Click here to try your free sample of Conveen Optima male external catheters


Need more instruction? Click here to watch video guides


Male Incontinence: User guides


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**Chapter 35 "Urinary Incontinence" Wooldridge in Core Curriculum of Urologic Nursing, 1st Edition, p 467: "In men, there is a steady increase of UI across the lifespan, with a peak around the ages of 55 to 64 years; highest prevalence is in men 75 years or older. 4.8% in ages 19 to 44 years. 11.2% in ages 45 to 64 years. 41% in ages 65 years and older."


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