What is urinary retention?
Urinary retention is when:
You can't urinate (pee) at all or only a little
You can urinate but there's still urine in your bladder after you're done
With urinary retention:
You may also leak urine and urinate without meaning to (urinary incontinence Urinary Incontinence in Adults Urinary incontinence is urinating (peeing) without meaning to. Incontinence can be a little dribbling or leaking a lot of urine You may have incontinence all the time, only at night, or only... read more )
Doctors will do an ultrasound after you pee to see how much urine is left in your bladder
Doctors may use a catheter (thin flexible tube) to empty your bladder
What causes urinary retention?
Problems with your bladder muscles
Something blocking your bladder’s opening, such as a kidney stone Stones in the Urinary Tract (Kidney Stones) Your urinary tract includes: Kidneys, two bean-shaped organs that make urine Ureters, the tubes that drain urine from each kidney to your bladder Bladder, a hollow organ that holds urine until... read more or enlarged prostate gland Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) The prostate is a gland located between a man’s bladder and penis. The tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder and out the penis runs right through the middle of the prostate. The... read more
Severe constipation (fecal impaction)
Nerve problems to your bladder Neurogenic Bladder Your bladder is where urine is stored until you're ready to urinate (pee). Neurogenic bladder is lack of bladder control caused by problems with the nerves that go to your bladder. Your bladder... read more (these can happen in people with health problems such as diabetes or Parkinson disease)
Urinary retention is more common in men because growth of the prostate Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous (benign) enlargement of the prostate gland that can make urination difficult. The prostate gland enlarges as men age. Men may have difficulty... read more can block the flow of urine.
What are the symptoms of urinary retention?
If you can't empty your bladder completely:
Trouble starting urination
A weak urine stream
A sense that your bladder hasn't emptied completely
Sometimes leaking of urine, urinating at night, or needing to urinate often
If you can't urinate at all:
No ability to start urination
Pain as your bladder stretches
Swelling in your lower belly
How can doctors tell if I have urinary retention?
If you can't pass any urine at all, doctors will know you have urinary retention. If you're able to pass some urine, doctors will do a test to see how much urine stays in your bladder.
Doctors will have you urinate as much as you can
They’ll either do an ultrasound Ultrasonography Ultrasonography is a safe imaging test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the insides of your body. Ultrasonography doesn't use radiation (x-rays). Ultrasonography is also called... read more of your bladder or insert a catheter into your bladder to see if there is any urine left in your bladder
If the amount of urine left is more than about half a cup, doctors will know you have urinary retention
Doctors will also do tests:
Usually a rectal exam—a doctor feels inside your anus with a finger to see if it’s blocked by stool or, if you're a man, to see if you have an enlarged prostate
How do doctors treat urinary retention?
If you can’t urinate at all, doctors will insert a catheter into your bladder right away to drain the urine. To treat the cause of your urinary retention, doctors may:
Have you stop any medicines that may be causing the problem
If you’re a man with an enlarged prostate, treat it with surgery or medicines
Prescribe medicine to relax the muscles at the opening of your bladder
If you have nerve problems, have you put a catheter in your bladder several times a day to drain urine
Sometimes, do surgery to pass urine out of your body in a different way