Urinary problems after surgery

Leaking urine and trouble controlling your flow are both signs of urinary problems. These urinary problems are also called 'incontinence'.

What causes urinary
problems after surgery?

Surgery to treat prostate cancer (known as radical prostatectomy) involves removing the entire prostate. Because of the location of the prostate, removing it is likely to cause some urinary problems.

Where exactly
is the prostate?

The prostate sits right underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra (where urine flows through). So when your surgeon takes out the prostate to remove cancer, the muscles and nerves that control when you urinate (pee) might be damaged. This can result in stress incontinence (leaking a few drops when you sneeze or cough, or exercise) or you might have heavier leakage and need to use a pad. Many men have heavier leakage right after surgery, that improves over time.

Right after surgery, you’ll have a catheter to help pass urine (pee). Once that’s removed, you’ll have some leaking - this is usually temporary and can be managed with pads.

How common is it?

Most men that’ve had surgery to treat their prostate cancer experience some level of urinary problems. The challenges may be different for each man, but most issues are treatable and get better over time.

Recovery times, and how long you may need a pad will be different for each man. From 10 to 60% of men may still require a pad to control leaks 12 months after surgery.

Make sure to talk to your doctor or care team as they’ll know what’s normal and where you may need help to manage your symptoms.

Stress incontinence
after surgery

After surgery, some activities may put stress on your bladder. This is known as stress incontinence.

Everyday habits like sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting, physical activity or changing your posture can cause unexpected leaks.

You might also experience:

  • uncontrollable leaking

  • sudden urges to urinate (pee)

  • dribbling urine

  • difficulty knowing what products can help (and where to get them)

  • uncertainty about whether you can do anything, like special exercises, to regain some control

In general, some men may also experience changes with their bladder depending on any extra weight they’re carrying, as well as getting older.

Exercising while
managing urinary problems

After treatment, you may need to adjust your exercise routine. Talk to your doctor about your current level of physical fitness and what changes you might need to make. High impact exercise can increase leaks. If your routine includes heavy strength training (using weights), your doctor or an exercise physiologist may advise you to reduce your weights.

Taking charge of
urinary problems

Reclaiming control of problems and feeling more confident are both possible, with a bit of patience. While it may take some time, being persistent about recovery can bring results. Learn more about pelvic floor exercises (Kegels), specialized underwear for leaks, and lifestyle changes here. You'll find there are several things you can do at home or on the go.

In addition, it's important to check in with your doctor or care team for their recommended tips, and guidance on local resources.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Urinary problems after surgery, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
Living with prostate cancer or supporting someone who is?

Tell us about your experience – and earn USD $10 as a thank you. It’ll take around 15 minutes. (We’ll pay another USD $20 for two more surveys over the next 3 months.)

Movember True North Home
Stay Informed

As we launch new features and updates, we'd like to share the news with you first.

Select location
We're currently available in 6 countries.
© 2022 Movember Foundation. All rights reserved.
A registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization
Movember True North HomeMovember Funded Project homepage opens in a new window
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride homepage opens in a new window