Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.


Difficulty Urinating Overview

What is difficulty urinating?
A person with difficulty urinating may have pain during urination, difficulty starting the flow of urine, urinary incontinence, or may be unable to empty the bladder completely. In women, common causes of difficulty urinating include bladder infections and stress incontinence. In men, the most common cause for difficulty urinating is an enlarged prostate gland.

What are the symptoms of difficulty urinating?
Symptoms of difficulty urinating include pain during urination, difficulty starting the stream, and urinating very small amounts of urine. Additional symptoms may include urinary frequency, urinary urgency, urinary retention, and urinary incontinence. Severe symptoms that may occur with difficulty urinating include abdominal swelling, lower abdominal pain, and low back pain.

How does the doctor treat difficulty urinating?
Treatment for difficulty urinating depends on the underlying cause. Initial treatment for difficulty urinating in someone with a bladder infection may include antibiotics. In someone who is unable to urinate from urinary retention, the insertion of a urinary catheter (rubber tube) into the bladder allows a painful and swollen bladder to drain. Medication or surgery may be required to treat the underlying cause for difficulty urinating.

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Difficulty Urinating References
  1. Nuotio M, Jylha M, Luukkaala T, Tammela TL. Urgency, urge incontinence and voiding symptoms in men and women aged 70 years and over. BJU Int. 2002 Mar;89(4):350-5. [11872023]
  2. Siegel SW, Catanzaro F, Dijkema HE, Elhilali MM, Fowler CJ, Gajewski JB, Hassouna MM, Janknegt RA, Jonas U, van Kerrebroeck PE, Lycklama a Nijeholt AA, Oleson KA, Schmidt RA. Long-term results of a multicenter study on sacral nerve stimulation for treatment of urinary urge incontinence, urgency-frequency, and retention. Urology. 2000 Dec 4;56(6 Suppl 1):87-91. [11114569]
  3. Zinner N, Harnett M, Sabounjian L, Sandage B Jr, Dmochowski R, Staskin D. The overactive bladder-symptom composite score: a composite symptom score of toilet voids, urgency severity and urge urinary incontinence in patients with overactive bladder. J Urol. 2005 May;173(5):1639-43. [15821526]
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