Can BPH Treatment Cause Incontinence?

Incontinence and BPH treatment is a relationship that develops in a significant number of men who undergo either a radical prostatectomy or transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) for treatment of BPH. After both types of prostate surgery, urinary incontinence can improve over time, but some men experience persistent incontinence. The prevalence of urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy can range from 5 percent to more than 60 percent, and the higher estimates occur soon after surgery.

After TURP, urinary incontinence is less common three months post-surgery, with about 10 percent of men needing to wear pads. In both cases, pelvic floor muscle exercises (e.g., Kegel exercises) along with biofeedback soon after surgery may support a faster return to continence.

A study from Brazil that involved 146 men who underwent TURP, open prostatectomy, or radical prostatectomy for BPH examined the incontinence and BPH treatment relationship. The authors, who were from the University of Sao Paulo Medical School, reported that urethral sphincter insufficiency was the main cause of urinary incontinence following surgery for BPH.

They also noted that bladder dysfunction “may be the isolated cause of incontinence in approximately 25% of patients.” They made the statement that the risk of men developing bladder dysfunction rises 5.3 percent for each year added to a patient’s age. It also appears that men who are older than 70 have twice the chance of developing bladder dysfunction regardless of which surgery they have.

For men who decide to undergo either TURP or prostatectomy as treatment for an enlarged prostate, the urinary incontinence and BPH treatment relationship is one they should discuss with their healthcare provider before proceeding. Men should ask their doctor about the risk of developing urinary incontinence, prevention measures they can take, and possible treatment options available should incontinence occur.


Bruschini H et al. Urinary incontinence following surgery for BPH: the role of aging on the incidence of bladder dysfunction. Int Braz J Urol 2011 May-Jun; 37(3): 380-86

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