Urinary Retention Causes and Treatment Options

Urinary retention occurs when your bladder does not empty completely. Left unchecked, this can expose your body to toxins that would have typically been released and cause severe abdominal pain or chronic urinary tract infections. It is important to seek treatment if you are experiencing urinary retention. As urogynecology experts, you are in excellent hands at Coyle Institute.

How to Know if You Are Experiencing Urinary Retention

Urinary retention is especially common in people at older ages, but it can happen to anyone. Knowing the differences between acute and chronic urinary retention is important. Acute urinary retention causes extreme pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen if you are unable to urinate for a long time. This is because your bladder continues to expand and put pressure on the surrounding nerves and tissues. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience acute urinary retention. Chronic urinary retention happens when you can urinate, but not all of the urine drains from your bladder. Persistent symptoms of chronic urinary retention include:

  • Urinating more than eight times per day
  • Often feeling like you have to urinate urgently
  • Having some trouble starting to urinate before urine comes out
  • When urinating, the stream of urine is erratic, weak or stops before you feel finished
  • After urination, you feel the urge to go again shortly after
  • Regularly urinating a few times during the night
  • Having some leakage from your bladder during the day
  • Feeling like you have the sudden urge to urinate, then feeling like you cannot stop urinating once you start
  • Being unsure if your bladder is full and if you actually have to urinate
  • Often feeling some discomfort in your hip area or feeling as if you still have some fluid in your bladder.

Common Causes of Urinary Retention

At Coyle Institute, our first goal in treating urinary retention is to identify its cause, which varies from person to person. Rather than trying various treatments to determine which one works or mask the symptoms, we want to identify and remedy the specific cause of your urinary retention. Common causes of urinary retention include:

  • An outlet obstruction to the urethra (swelling in the urethra, constipation, kidney stones or blood clots)
  • Pelvic prolapse or rectocele (when pelvic organs become displaced)
  • Neurogenic bladder (occurs when the bladder loses its ability to squeeze and push urine out)

To determine the cause of your urinary retention, you will likely need to provide urine samples and undergo blood tests and urodynamic tests that measure how much urine your bladder holds. You may also need a cystoscopy, electromyography, CT scan or ultrasound for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatments for Urinary Retention

Treatments for urinary retention are tailored to the cause of urinary retention. In situations where urinary retention is caused by an obstruction, the obstruction will be removed, which may involve urethral dilation and stents. If pelvic prolapse is the issue, urinary retention will be resolved after returning the prolapsed organs to their appropriate location. For neurogenic problems, medications like Urecholine will help to squeeze the urine from the bladder better. InterStim may also be recommended for women with urge incontinence, fecal incontinence or neurogenic bladders. This sacral nerve modulation involves placing electrodes on the sacrum and stimulating the nerves that go to the bladder and anus.

If you believe you are experiencing chronic urinary retention, you should seek treatment to avoid serious health concerns. At Coyle Institute, our experienced urogynecologists routinely treat urinary retention and can help you on your way to enjoying a better quality of life. Contact us today at 850-637-8258 to schedule your appointment.