Urinary retention is a condition in which you cannot empty all the urine from your bladder.
This condition can be acute or chronic. Acute means you have a sudden inability to urinate. Chronic means you have a gradual inability to completely empty urine from the bladder.
Common causes may include the following:
- Obstruction to the flow of urine through the urethra
- Weak bladder muscle
- Insufficient urine in the bladder to enable urination
- A fear of using the toilet or to use toilets outside the home
- In men: a blockage due to an enlarged prostate restricting the outlet from the bladder
- For women: an anterior prolapse/bladder prolapse, which can distort the urethra and restrict the flow of urine
Common symptoms may include the following:
- Straining to pass urine
- Strong feelings of urgency and frequency, but only a small amount of urine comes out
- A very weak and intermittent urinary stream
- Severe abdominal pain
Visit your healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor will use your medical history, a physical exam and tests to help find the cause.
Tests include postvoid residual urine measurement, lab tests, imaging tests, urodynamic tests and cystoscopy.
Cystoscopy is a procedure that lets a urologist view the inside of the bladder and urethra using a fiberoptic camera to find causes of bleeding or blockage or any abnormalities of the bladder and its lining.
Treatment for urinary retention depends on whether your condition is acute or chronic and the cause of urinary retention.
Treatments may include draining the bladder, medicines, medical procedures or devices, surgery and self-care treatments.