What is Urinary Retention?

Blockages or nerve issues can prevent one’s bladder from emptying

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This post was reviewed by our Director of Clinical Excellence and Oversight.

The cause of urinary retention is usually a blockage or nerve issue that prevents your bladder from emptying by passing urine through the urethra naturally. There are many reasons that this may occur:

What Cases Urinary Retention?

What Causes Urinary Retention?

The cause of urinary retention is usually a blockage or nerve issue that prevents your bladder from emptying by passing urine through the urethra naturally. There are many reasons that this may occur:

  • Medication: Certain antihistamines, antispasmodics, and antidepressants can cause the bladder muscles to contract in a way that blocks the flow of urine.
  • An enlarged prostate: This is the most common cause of urinary retention in men. An enlarged prostate presses on the urethra which can block the flow of urine.
  • Cystocele or rectocele: This is when a woman’s bladder or rectum sags.
  • Stricture: A narrowing of the urethra caused by a previous injury or surgery.
  • Urinary stones: Hard protein masses that can form in the urinary tract or bladder.
  • Infection: A urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease can cause swelling of the urethra.
  • Nerve damage: Nerve damage from a stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, trauma to the spine or pelvis, or pressure on the spinal cord from tumors can make it difficult for the bladder or urethra to receive messages from the bran.
  • Childbirth: childbirth can sometimes damage the nerve pathways that make it possible to urinate.
  • Surgery: Procedures such as hip replacements or pelvic surgeries can contribute to urinary retention.

What To Do If You Are Experiencing Urinary Retention

The management of urinary retention depends heavily on the cause. First things first, if you believe you are experiencing urinary retention you should talk to your doctor. There are many ways to diagnose this condition, but you must get a diagnosis before you can manage the symptoms. Once you do, your doctor will likely suggest one of the following treatment methods:

If you have retention due to medication:

  • Ask your doctor about possible adjustments to medication.

If you have an enlarged prostate:

  • Your doctor may suggest medication to shrink the prostate or surgery to remove it altogether.

If you have cystocele or rectocele:

  • In some cases, exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor or inserting a ring called a vaginal pessary that supports the bladder could fix the issue. If you are past menopause, you may be prescribed estrogen therapy. In other cases, surgery may be the best option.

If you have a stricture:

  • A catheter and a balloon may be used to open the urethra. In some cases, strictures require surgery or a stent to be inserted to prop open the urethra.

If you have urinary stones:

  • There are medications and procedures that can shrink urinary stones so you can pass them more easily.

If you have nerve damage:

  • Depending on the severity, a doctor will likely show you how to use a catheter to pass your urine.

What Should I Do If I Need To Start Using A Catheter?

If your doctor tells you that it’s time to start using a catheter you may feel a little overwhelmed, and we can help. Your doctor will most-often recommend a specific type of catheter for you. We carry a wide range of brands and catheter types that can be delivered discreetly to your door. If your insurance plan covers urological supplies, you can receive deliveries each month.

Our knowledgeable customer care representatives and registered nurses on staff can answer your questions about insurance coverage and catheter use. Let us give you a call today by entering your phone number in the bottom left of the screen. We are eager to help you get the supplies you need.

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Unless otherwise noted, the recommendations in this document were obtained from the sources indicated. Be advised that information contained herein is intended to serve as a useful reference for informational purposes only. HCD cannot be held responsible for the continued accuracy of or for any errors or omissions in the information. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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