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Overflow Incontinence: Causes and Treatment

by Jessica Lubahn November 10, 2020 3 min read

overflow incontinence

Overflow Incontinence, in simple words, is the inability to control urination. In case you are experiencing urine leakage during the day or wetting the bed at night, the reason behind all this might be overflow incontinence. This happens when the bladder does not get empty completely and the overflow leads to unexpected leakages during the day or at night.

While this might result in discomfort or embarrassment, the urine in the bladder also acts as a breeding ground for bacteria which can result in unwanted urinary tract infections.

Causes of Overflow Incontinence

Overflow Incontinence is experienced more common in men as compared to women. There can be plenty of reasons behind this unexpected urine leakage as mentioned:

  • One of the most common reasons is the enlarged prostate in men which can easily impede the flow of urine out of the bladder.
  • You can experience blockage in the urethra not allowing it to let the urine out of the body which can be caused by hidden tumors, swelling, scar tissues, or urinary stones.
  • Nerve damage from a disease or a surgery side effect that affects the bladder.
  • Too much medication like antidepressants which can result in affecting nerve signals.

Diagnosis of Overflow Incontinence

The overflow incontinence can be self-diagnosed initially. You can keep a check on your drink intake, number of times you urinate, number of times you're leaking urine, amount of urine produced, etc. You can discuss these symptoms with your doctor who might perform the following diagnostic tests:

  • A urine test to check if there is any kind of infection
  • A prostate exam to see an enlargement in the prostate
  • A urodynamic test to check the holding and emptying capacity of your bladder
  • A post-void residual measurement test which shows the amount of urine left in the bladder


There are multiple treatments that the doctor might recommend you depending on your body needs. You might be asked to follow one or more piece of medical advice based on your condition.

Until you seek medical attention, you can manage your incontinence in a variety of ways.


The most commonly used medications to treat overflow incontinence are alpha-blockers and 5s reductase inhibitors. While alpha-blockers help relax muscle fibers in the prostate and bladder neck resulting in easy and complete urine release, 5s reductase inhibitors help treat enlarged prostate glands.


There are some cases where the doctor would suggest you go in for surgery depending on your diagnosis.

The sling procedures help to treat women suffering from overflow incontinence. In this procedure, a sling is made around the urethra which can be made of a piece of tissue or synthetic material. This sling will keep the urethra closed preventing any urine leakage.

The bladder neck suspension, as the name suggests, adds support to the bladder neck and urethra. The sutures are placed in the vaginal tissue near the bladder neck and urethra and attached to the ligaments near the pubic bone.

An artificial urinary sphincteris a device installed in the body which moderates the severe stress urinary incontinence and is well suited for men and women.

Though the urinary incontinence is found to be more common in older adults, it is important to stay vigilant of your bodies and follow the right procedures. Remember, it is better to be safe than sorry!

Jessica Lubahn
Jessica Lubahn

Dr. Jessica Lubahn, a Washington University School of Medicine (in St. Louis) graduate, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology with over 13 years of experience in the medical field. Aside from practicing in Portland, Dr. Lubahn is a health writer and consultant, and the founder of ONDRwear. Dr. Lubahn’s mission is to destigmatize menstrual, urinary, and other types of leakage, by creating effective, beautiful products. Dr. Lubahn prides herself on patient care and is committed to providing the highest quality care to all of her patients, as well as her customers.

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