Urinary problems - dealing with leaks and urgency

Some men can experience problems with peeing because of prostate cancer, treatments for prostate cancer, prostatitis or an enlarged prostate.  

This is just a short introduction to some of the practical ways that men deal with some of these problems - in particular, leaking urine or finding it hard to hold on (urgency).

There are other possible urinary problems, including having a weak flow or finding it hard to empty the bladder. We've got more information about all of these issues.

Let your doctor or nurse know

Speak to your doctor or nurse if you have any problems with peeing. They can help you find the possible causes and best ways to manage it. They might refer you to a continence advisor or a specialist physiotherapist. You can also speak to our Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline on 0800 074 8383.

There may be treatments that can help. And your healthcare team can tell you about specialist products which you could try.

Your options will depend on the problem and what's causing it. It's also important to find what works for you and your lifestyle - what makes your life better.

In the words of one man:

"A sheath and leg bag might be a bit uncomfortable and inconvenient, but you never have to worry about needing to rush to find a lavatory."

This is just one example of what worked for him. It's all about finding the right approach for you, and your healthcare team can help.

You can find out about different of products on the Continence Products Advisor website.

If you have urinary symptoms but haven't been diagnosed with a prostate problem, it's still a good idea to speak to your GP. Symptoms might be a sign of a urine infection or another condition, so it's worth getting it checked out.

Learn about your pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, and help to control when you pee. They are underneath the bladder and bowel.

Exercising these muscles might help you control any leaks and help you hold on for longer. It might be particularly helpful if you leak urine when you stand, cough or sneeze - what's known as stress incontinence.

There are particular exercises which work the pelvic floor muscles - they can be done standing up, sitting or lying down. And there are other things which could help reduce the strain on these muscles, such as keeping a healthy weight, avoiding constipation and not smoking. 

Find out where the pelvic floor muscles are, and how and when to exercise them, in our fact sheet Pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Plan ahead when you go out and about

Lots of men worry about getting caught short. You might find some fairly simple solutions, such as:

  • checking where public toilets are before you leave home
  • ordering one of our free 'urgent' toilet cards to show to staff in shops, restaurants and other public places - they should let you use their toilets without asking awkward questions
  • finding out about a Radar key from Disability Rights UK which lets you use accessible toilets across the UK
  • carrying a screw-top container in the back of the car.

If you use absorbent pads, carry a bag with extra pads, spare underwear and hand wipes. And pack a sealable plastic bag too, so you can discretely dispose of used pads - there might not always be a bin you can use.

Read about planning for a longer trip in our fact sheet, Travel and prostate cancer.

Drink plenty of water

If you find it hard to hold on, it might seem like common sense to drink less. But in fact, if you don't drink enough, it could make symptoms worse. Try and aim to drink around two litres (three to four pints) a day.

You don't have to just drink water, but avoid too many drinks that might irritate the bladder such as fizzy drinks, drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, tea and cola, and alcohol.

If you find you need to pee a lot at night, you could try drinking less in the two hours before bedtime.

Find out more

These are just a few of the ways men with prostate cancer and other prostate problems deal with urinary problems. You can find out more about managing these and other urinary symptoms on our website, in our fact sheets and booklets, or by calling our Specialist Nurses on our confidential helpline.

Find out more about the possible urinary side effects of prostate cancer treatments, and how to manage them.

Find out more about managing the symptoms of prostatitis.

Find out more about an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic enlargement (BPE) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)).