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Living with Incontinence

Overactive Bladder in Men: Causes & Treatments

Affecting around 30% of men, an overactive bladder can cause incontinence and social isolation. Don’t put up with it. Find out what you can do to improve and manage this debilitating condition.
Published by Adria Green
men not happy with overactive bladder

What is an overactive bladder in men?

As the name suggests, an overactive bladder sends messages to be emptied far more frequently than a healthy bladder. Frequency is defined as more than eight times in a 24-hour period, but for some sufferers, it can be as many as 30 times, including during the night. As well as frequency, the urge to urinate is sudden, urgent, and difficult to control, often resulting in involuntary leakage. This is incontinence.

When a healthy bladder is close to capacity, nerves trigger messages to the brain that it needs to be emptied. There’s plenty of time to get to the toilet and adjust clothing. When voiding, the pelvic floor muscles relax and the bladder muscle contracts, pushing the urine out through the urethra. This process is well within your control. An overactive bladder contracts involuntarily, unexpectedly, and well before the bladder has been filled. The ability to ‘hold on’ when the bladder is contracting is extremely difficult, which is why it causes incontinence.

Having to get up more than twice in the night to urinate is also a sign of an overactive bladder in males. Frequent urination at night medically known as nocturia, causes repeated sleep interruptions which are harmful to your physical and mental well-being.


An overactive bladder is also known as an OAB or urge incontinence. It’s a frustrating condition that can interfere with your daily activities like work, social events, sex, and sleep, so don’t put up with it. There are steps you can take to manage, improve, and in some cases, even resolve this overactive bladder in men which is an annoying problem.


What causes an overactive bladder in males?

Two-thirds of OAB cases in men are caused by an enlarged prostate gland. About 50% of men have an enlarged prostate by the age of 60, and 90% by 85 – so it’s fairly inevitable. The prostate sits at the base of the bladder and the urethra, the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside the body, runs through it. As the prostate enlarges, it squeezes the urethra, restricting flow and resulting in the bladder failing to entirely empty. Urine left in the bladder can become an irritant, triggering involuntary contractions.


For the other third, causes include:

  • Kidney and bladder stones. Like an enlarged prostate, these restrict urine flow and lead to urine being left in the bladder
  • Persistent constipation. Hard stools in the bowel press against the bladder and urethra, inhibiting the flow of urine in a similar way to an enlarged prostate
  • Urinary Tract Infections in Men.  Infection in the urethra or bladder will cause an overactive bladder in men. The urinary tract is irritated and tries to flush out the offending infection but sends frequent messages to the brain to empty the bladder
  • An infection of the prostate, while not part of the urinary system, can also trigger frequent, urgent urination
  • Consuming foods and drinks that irritate the bladder, such as carbonated drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy food
  • Like the foods and drinks above, some medications also have the effect of irritating the bladder
  • Bladder disease, tumours, and cancer
  • Diseases that damage nerves such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Emotional conditions like distress, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)


Why you shouldn’t ignore an overactive bladder

Never accept an overactive bladder as a normal part of getting older. The underlying condition could be serious and treatable, and the effect on your wellbeing is often underestimated.


The psychological toll of incontinence on men is often greater than women. Females are used to dealing with periods and pads but managing leaks ‘down there’ is unfamiliar to men and often feels like an affront to their masculinity.


Unfortunately, in response to incontinence, some men withdraw from social engagement. The fear of an embarrassing incident stops them from participating in the activities they enjoy, including sport, socialising and outings. Loneliness and isolation are growing problems in modern society, but an overactive bladder shouldn’t contribute to that situation.

There are simple things men can do to feel confident in social situations including wearing highly absorbent, discreet disposable products. These not only keep you dry but prevent any tell-tale odours from developing.


Incontinence can also have a detrimental effect on your sex life, however, there are ways to manage incontinence and sexual intimacy Sex is an essential part of wellbeing so don’t let incontinence get in the way.


What are the treatments of an overactive bladder in males?

 The first step in this process is to have the underlying cause diagnosed by your doctor. Once that’s identified, plans to improve the condition can be made.

Treatments of Overactive Bladder might include:

  • Lifestyle changes

    • Avoiding certain foods and drinks that irritate the bladder such as alcohol and caffeine
    • Dealing with persistent constipation by increasing hydration, activity, and fibre intake
    • Adopting relaxation techniques such as meditation or being referred to a counsellor if the cause is psychological
  • Medical investigation, review, and treatments

    • A review and adjustment of your current medication
    • Treatment for infection if one is detected in a urine sample
    • A referral to a continence expert who can assist with bladder retraining 
    • An investigation and treatment for an enlarged prostate, kidney or bladder stones, tumours or cancer
    • Depending on other symptoms, investigating diseases like Parkinson’s, diabetes, etc


Not all cases of an overactive bladder will resolve, even if there is an improvement. Further, some treatments may take time, so management will be necessary. This typically involves choosing an absorbent product that best suits your needs, and TENA has a range specifically designed for men.


An overactive bladder usually results in the entire bladder unexpectedly voiding before you can get to the bathroom, so TENA Men Active Fit Pants are an ideal choice. Designed to look and feel like regular underwear, these navy briefs rapidly absorb large quantities of liquid, locking it deep inside the pants to keep you dry, comfortable and odour-free. If you need a longer-lasting product to absorb several voids, try TENA Pants Level 4 for maximum absorbency. Both products are unnoticeable under dress pants, jeans and even shorts.

For very small dribbles that might catch you out before or after you get to a bathroom, TENA Protective Shield  tucks snuggly into the front of your regular briefs to catch those drips. TENA Shield is easy to wear and so thin, you’ll barely notice it’s there.


Have a look at the full range of TENA products for men to decide what might be best to manage your overactive bladder.




Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice