Trouble Urinating: Causes, Diagnosis, and When to See Your Doctor

Trouble urinating every now and then can be normal, and there are a number of possible causes. But when it occurs often, ignoring the problem can lead to worse complications. Read this to learn the causes, and when it’s time to seek professional treatment.

8 minute read

Last Updated July 14, 2020

Trouble Urinating Causes - Men’s Health Symptoms - 1MD

Trouble urinating or urinary hesitancy can occur in men at any age, but it is more common at an older age. An inability to urinate can eventually cause urinary retention, which is when you have reduced urination, and this can be dangerous. 

There are a number of possible causes for urinary hesitancy, so it is important to see your doctor if this is a problem. If there is an underlying condition to blame, you need to get treatment before a more serious complication develops.

Causes for Trouble Urinating

In most cases, trouble urinating is caused by BPH, or benign prostate hyperplasia or an enlarged prostate. The prostate gland is situated around the urethra and is responsible for carrying urine from the bladder to be excreted. 

Enlarged prostates are common among older men, and when this gland swells, it increases pressure on the prostatic urethra. This pressure makes it difficult to start and maintain a flow of urine to the outside of the body. 

This condition can also be caused by any of the following:

♦ Infections, like prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), cause swelling and extra pressure on the urethra, which interferes with urine flow.

♦ Nerve damage as a result of injury can cause interference with urine flow. Multiple sclerosis and other nervous system disorders can lead to nerve damage, which also causes trouble urinating. 

♦ Diabetes causes bladder dysfunction when blood glucose levels are uneven. As a result, urinating is sluggish, and you can experience trouble urinating.

♦ Kidney or bladder stones can develop and cause blockages along the urinary tract. As a result, you can experience trouble urinating until they are removed.

♦ Sexually transmitted infections often cause trouble urinating. In most cases, they cause burning and itching sensations that make it uncomfortable to urinate, causing people to hold urine in for longer than is healthy. 

♦ After a stroke, many survivors report trouble urinating. This is especially common right after the stroke, and the use of a catheter can help prevent the bladder from filling up too much.

♦ Surgeries can cause trouble urinating as a result of anesthesia interfering with nerve impulses. Bladder, kidney, and urethra surgeries are most commonly associated with this and can cause scar tissue that contributes to urinary hesitancy.  

♦ Psychological issues like shy bladder syndrome (paruresis) are rare but do cause trouble urinating. Being uncomfortable urinating in the presence of others is the most common symptom of this disorder. 

♦ Cancer or a tumor in the bladder or urethra can cause extra pressure that obstructs healthy urine flow.

♦ Certain medications like nasal decongestants, antidepressants, anticholinergics, and allergy medications can interfere with urination. 

Diagnosing Urinary Hesitancy

Your doctor will start by taking your medical history to diagnose trouble urinating or another urinary problem. 

They will need to know when it started and if the onset was gradual or sudden. They also need to know if there is anything you have tried that helps or worsens your symptoms. Any other symptoms you have along with any medications you currently take also need to be documented.

Diagnostic testing can also be done, including a swab of the urethra or a collection of tissues from the bladder using a small flexible tube. Once these samples are collected, the following tests can be done.

♦ Pressure flow testing to measure the pressure in your bladder, and this is compared to the flow rate when you urinate

♦ Uroflowmetry, which measures the volume and rate of urine flow

♦ Video urodynamic testing, which uses a fluid placed by catheter into the bladder to provide contrast imaging of the bladder filling up and emptying

♦ Rectal prostate examinations can be done to identify or rule out prostate problems.

Treatment Options for Trouble Urinating 

The treatment plan your doctor gives will depend on the cause underlying the problem. Temporary trouble urinating is not usually anything to worry about, but when the symptom becomes persistent or chronic, you need to get a diagnosis and treatment. 

Treatment can include any of the following:

♦ Antibiotics to clear up infections
♦ Medications to help enlarged prostate
♦ Surgery to remove blockages
♦ Removal of scar tissue in the bladder or urethra
♦ Procedures to dilate the urethra 

In addition to these, there are remedies you can try at home. They require minimal effort and can help to relieve the uncomfortable symptom. You can promote regular and healthy urine flow by doing the following:

♦ Massaging the bladder area
♦ Applying a hot water bottle or heating pad to the abdominal area
♦ Taking a warm bath or shower

Natural Treatment for Trouble Urinating

Infections are the most common cause of urination problems. Other potential causes may require medical attention, but infections can be treated naturally. Depending on the infection, your doctor may prescribe medications. You can also try the natural treatment options below to better fight and prevent infections. 

Copper AAC: Copper has long been known for its antibacterial properties. Copper AAC is copper chelated with an amino acid to make it more absorbable. As part of a regular health routine, copper AAC can prevent urinary tract infections that can interfere with urination. 

In the event that an enlarged prostate is causing trouble urinating, you can try these natural ingredients to improve prostate health and reduce inflammation and swelling. 

Pygeum: This is a herbal extract known to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. It has been used to successfully relieve symptoms of prostatitis such as pain and trouble urinating. Reliving the prostate of inflammation allows for healthier function through the urinary tract. 

Stinging nettle: This is normally used to treat joint pain, but it provides benefits for the urinary tract too. Studies have shown that stinging nettle can relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate that contribute to trouble urinating. 

Pumpkin seed extract: This is one of nature’s best treatments for urination troubles. It supports tissue growth in muscles along the pelvic floor, making them stronger. As a result, controlling urination is easier. This extract also contains anti-inflammatory benefits that can help reduce swelling in the urinary tract.

When to See Your Doctor

Having difficulty urinating can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily life and overall wellbeing. If it is causing discomfort and has become a chronic problem, then you need to see your doctor right away. 

In some cases, trouble urinating can be a sign of a medical emergency. If it appears along with any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

♦ Chills
♦ Fever
♦ Lower back pain
♦ Vomiting
♦ Shaking

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

When you have trouble urinating, ignoring the problem can lead to worse complications. Left untreated, you can develop urinary retention, which is when urinating becomes difficult and painful, almost to the point of being impossible. 

As soon you notice any changes to your urinary output and ability to urinate as needed, see your doctor right away. The cause is likely to be minor and easily treatable, and it is better to find a solution before the situation gets worse, and the outlook becomes more negative.

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