Incontinence in Men Linked to Caffeine Consumption

Incontinence in men has been associated with drinking less than two cups of coffee daily. That’s the finding of a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. If you are having difficulties with urinary incontinence (urine or bladder leakage), then it may be time to trade in your coffee for a beverage with little or no caffeine, such as green tea or hibiscus tea.

Incontinence in men

Urinary incontinence is usually associated with women. However, a significant number of men experience urine leakage. In fact, according to information in the new study, an estimated 5 to 21 percent of men experience urinary incontinence. One reason the range is so great is that many cases of urine leakage probably go unreported because men are embarrassed to discuss the problem with their doctor.

Incontinence in men is usually temporary and associated with treatment for prostate cancer or BPH treatment (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate). Even when incontinence is permanent, it usually can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medications.

Incontinence in men and caffeine

Although previous research has explored the effects of caffeine on incontinence among women, not much has been done to look at the relationship in men. In the new study, researchers evaluated the responses from about 4,000 men who took a health survey. Information gathered included how much caffeine (e.g., from coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate) and how much water men consumed each day. The survey also asked about urinary incontinence.

The authors found that men consumed an average of 169 milligrams of caffeine daily. For comparison, 8 ounces of generic brewed coffee contains 95 to 200 mg, while the same amount of black tea contains 14 to 61 mg. Colas contain about 26 to 47 mg per 12-ounce serving, and energy drinks provide about 47 to 80 per eight-ounce cup (except for 5-Hour Energy, at 207 mg).

Here’s what the authors found:

  • 13% of the men said they experienced urine leakage, but only 4.5% reported having more than a few drops of urine per month.
  • After making adjustments for the men’s age and other factors, the men who consumed 234 mg or more of caffeine daily were 72% more likely to experience some urinary incontinence than those who consumed the least amount of caffeine.
  • Men who consumed more than 392 mg of caffeine daily were more than twice as likely to experience urine leakage
  • Incontinence in men was not linked to how much water a man consumed

Dr. Alayne Markland, the study’s senior author, noted that research in women has shown that caffeine may irritate the bladder, which in turn can prompt urine leakage. She pointed out that “Although we didn’t prove that in the study, that condition has been documented in women and we may need further evaluation in men.”

If you are experiencing urine leakage, you may want to look at your caffeine use. You should also discuss your problem and concerns with your healthcare provider to determine your urinary incontinence options. Incontinence in men is nothing to be embarrassed about, and it can be managed.


David NJ et al. Caffeine intake and its association with urinary incontinence in United States men: results from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005-2006 and 2007-2008. Journal of Urology 2013 Jun; 189(6): 2170-74