What is urinary incontinence?

There are many myths and misconceptions about urinary incontinence (UI). Know the truth about incontinence and get the help you need to live an active lifestyle. Read more about urinary incontinence

Bladder (or urinary) incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine that occurs when the muscle (sphincter) that holds the bladder neck closed is not strong enough to keep urine in the bladder.

Some facts about UI

  • Over 2 million men suffer from UI
  • UI can also be caused when the bladder muscles contract too strongly or when the bladder is not regularly and completely emptied
  • men, UI is often related to a medical problem or treatments involving the prostate gland, including enlarged prostate or prostate removal due to cancer

Signs and causes

What are the signs of incontinence?

What are the signs of incontinence?

Could you be incontinent? Learn how the bladder functions and take a survey to see if you are showing signs of incontinence. Signs of incontinence

How does a normal bladder work?

The bladder is a hollow organ in the lower abdomen. It stores urine; the liquid waste produced by the kidneys. Urine

urinary - male body

 passes from each kidney into the bladder through a tube called a ureter. Urine leaves the bladder and exits the body through another tube called the urethra.


As the bladder fills with urine, pressure is exerted on its walls, which you experience as the need to urinate. This triggers the brain to send a message to the layer of muscle that surrounds the inner lining of the bladder, forcing the muscle to contract (tighten) and the urine to flow out of the bladder.

At the same time, the sphincter muscle that surrounds the urethra relaxes, letting the urine flow out of the body. This process requires both nerves and muscles working together to prevent urine leakage. Damage, weakening or injury to either muscles or nerves can result in incontinence.



Are you showing signs of incontinence?

Below are some simple questions to think about before talking to your doctor:

Do you leak urine unexpectedly?




How much do you leak?

A few drops
Wet undergarments
Wet clothing


Do you leak urine when you:

Change positions (i.e., sitting or laying to standing)?


Do you leak urine continuously during the day?



Do you leak urine while sleeping?



Does urine leakage affect your life?


If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you think incontinence is preventing you from enjoying life, talk to your doctor. They can diagnose your type of incontinence and help you find the most effective treatment option.

What causes incontinence?

What causes incontinence?

Did you know that incontinence is not a disease, and is actually a symptom? Learn more about incontinence

Incontinence can be caused by:

  • Prostate removal
  • Infections or medications
  • Diseases
  • Urethral strictures
  • DESD (Detrusor External Sphincter Dyssynergia)
  • Pelvic trauma
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurological disorders

The cause of incontinence and the impact it has on the nerves or muscles will determine the type of incontinence you may have.


What are the types of incontinence?


Stress incontinence

Is the accidental release of urine when pressure is applied to the bladder, such as when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something heavy. This is the most common type of incontinence post-prostate cancer surgery.


Urge incontinence

Is when the bladder contracts at the wrong time giving you the feeling that you have to urinate immediately even if you may have just emptied your bladder.


Overflow incontinence

Is leaking that occurs when the bladder does not empty properly. This can be due to other medical conditions such as an enlarged prostate or a narrowing of the urethra.

Total incontinence

Is continual leakage of urine due to complete sphincter deficiency.


Mixed incontinence

Is a combination of different incontinence types. This can be difficult to diagnose, as one type can mask the other(s).


Treatment options

Can incontinence be treated without surgery?

Whatever type of incontinence you have, there are treatment options that can help, including some that don’t involve surgery. Non-surgical options

No single incontinence treatment works for everyone. In some cases, treatment for one type of incontinence can actually worsen another. It’s a good idea to discuss all the options with your doctor.

Non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Absorbent products (pads)
  • Catheters; internal or external
  • Incontinence or penile clamps
  • Behavioural modification
  • Kegel exercises
  • Limiting liquids
  • Timed urination
  • Medication
  • Changing existing medications
  • New medication

If these options are not suitable for the type of incontinence you experience or your lifestyle, there are also minimally invasive surgical options to consider.


What are the surgical treatments for incontinence?

The Virtue male sling is a treatment that may offer a permanent solution to incontinence. After surgery and once the healing process has completed, you can enjoy the active lifestyle you had before, without fear of leaking. Surgical treatment options

Why surgical treatment? 

No single incontinence treatment works for everyone. In some cases, treatment for one type of incontinence can actually worsen another. It’s a good idea to discuss all the options with your doctor.

Surgical treatment options include: 

• Sling

• Artificial urinary sphincter (AUS) 


Consider using a sling

Once your incontinence issue has been assessed by a doctor or urologist, it may be that the best treatment is a sling such as Coloplast’s Virtue® male sling.

Virtue male sling

The Virtue® sling is made of a soft, flexible polypropylene mesh material. It is implanted to support and elevate the urethra and via gentle compression, it can help to prevent urine leakage.


Virtue is usually fitted during an outpatient procedure. Once it is implanted, you will have to limit your activities for a short period to allow proper healing and maximize the effects. Once the healing process has completed, you can enjoy the active lifestyle you had before, without fear of leaking.

male sling surgery


What happens before, during and after surgery?

What happens before surgery?

Before surgery, it’s important that your incontinence is correctly diagnosed to ensure that you are getting the best possible treatment option. Before surgery

Your doctor will want a complete medical history and information about your urinary habits. It’s important to accurately describe the problems you are having, such as when and under which conditions you have problems with leakage.

It may be beneficial to track your voiding habits in a journal to share with your doctor. This “24-hour voiding diary” should include information such as what you eat, what you drink, the number of times you urinate and if you have episodes of leakage.

Voiding diary (click to download as pdf)

voiding diary

Specialists, such as urologists, use different tests to measure the:

  • Amount of urine in the bladder before urinating
  • Force of the urine as it leaves the body
  • Internal pressure of the bladder as it fills with urine
  • Control of the urethral sphincter muscles

Some common tests used to diagnose incontinence are:

  • Urinalysis
  • Stress test
  • Post-void residual
  • Urodynamic testing
  • Cystoscopy

Post-surgery. What now?

To maximize the effects of the Virtue® male sling, you will have to limit your post-surgery activities for a short period. This will give everything time to heal, and help you get the most of the Virtue® male sling. After surgery

Help get the most out of your Virtue® male sling by following these guidelines in consultation with your doctor. 

  • After surgery, it is important to keep your pelvic area as still as possible to allow for proper healing.
  • It is not uncommon to experience some pain at the incision sites after surgery. This pain should be controlled with the pain medication prescribed by your urologist.
  • Post-operative pain should resolve within four weeks. If pain persists for longer than this, please contact your urologist.
  • In addition to pain medication, your urologist may prescribe a stool softener and/or antibiotics for use after your procedure. Make sure to follow the instructions for taking them.

Your urologist may have additional guidelines for you to follow.


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