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Thirty or more years ago, when I learned to use ergonomics to go to the bathroom, it was so I wouldn’t have to self-catheterize. There was always a risk of getting more infections from self-catheterizing, not because it was unclean, but because it was invasive, often scraping the urethra and causing irritation .
This method was the answer to my prayers. All I wanted was to get a good night’s sleep.
My Own Personal Method
When To Seek Medical Care
A person who has any of the following symptoms should see a health care provider right away:
- complete inability to urinate
A health care provider may suspect urinary retention because of a patient’s symptoms and, therefore, perform a physical exam of the lower abdomen. The health care provider may be able to feel a distended bladder by lightly tapping on the lower belly.
Postvoid Residual Measurement
This test measures the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination. The remaining urine is called the postvoid residual. A specially trained technician performs an ultrasound, which uses harmless sound waves to create a picture of the bladder, to measure the postvoid residual. The technician performs the bladder ultrasound in a health care provider’s office, a radiology center, or a hospital, and a radiologist — a doctor who specializes in medical imaging — interprets the images. The patient does not need anesthesia.
A health care provider may use a catheter — a thin, flexible tube — to measure postvoid residual. The health care provider inserts the catheter through the urethra into the bladder, a procedure called catheterization, to drain and measure the amount of remaining urine. A postvoid residual of 100 mL or more indicates the bladder does not empty completely. A health care provider performs this test during an office visit. The patient often receives local anesthesia.
Don’t Do Kegels While Urinating
At some point in the history of kegeling, word got out that a good time to do kegels is while urinating . The logic behind this theory is that you use your pelvic floor muscles to voluntarily stop the flow of urine, hence if you can stop the flow while urinating, you will know whether or not you can successfully contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles. Heres the deal: its okay to try a kegel or two while you urinate in order to check in to see if you are doing kegels correctly . But this is not something you should do on a regular basis.
Regularly doing kegels while urinating can lead to incomplete bladder evacuation, which can make your bladder feel like its always full.
You might think your bladder is the size of an acorn But really, its simply the fact that its never fully empty! To fully empty your bladder, practice your kegel exercises when you are OFF the toilet.
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What Are The Possible Complications Of Urinary Retention
The complications of urinary retention and its treatments may include:
UTIs: the normal flow of urine usually prevents germs from infecting the urine. With urinary retention, bacteria may be able to infect the urine because the urine cannot flow out of the bladder.
Bladder damage: if the bladder becomes stretched too far or for long periods, the muscles may become damaged and unable to work properly.
Chronic kidney disease: for some people, urinary retention causes urine to flow backwards into the kidneys. This backward flow is called reflux and it may damage or scar the kidneys.
Urinary incontinence: this may occur together with chronic urinary retention or after surgery .
Prostate gland surgery may cause urinary incontinence in some men. This problem is often temporary and gets better quite quickly. Most men recover their bladder control in a few weeks or months after surgery.
Chronic Urinary Retention Treated At Home
If youre experiencing chronic urinary retention symptoms, its normal to feel anxious about leaving home to seek medical attention. After all, you likely want to be close to a bathroom in case you need to urinate suddenly. At DispatchHealth, we specialize in delivering high-quality healthcare in the comfort of our patients homes. All you have to do is request a visit and well send a team to your homeits as easy as that. Our medical teams are fully equipped to handle a wide range of health concerns and arrive with a stocked medical kit that has many of the same tools and diagnostics as found in an emergency room.
Request a visit by contacting us via our website, the phone, or our app!
For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldnt be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesnt replace a primary care provider.
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Mistake : Not Emptying Fully
When youre in a rush, incomplete bladder emptying can cause issues far more problematic than taking the extra minute or so in the bathroom. Similar to urine-holding, incomplete bladder emptying allows a reservoir of urine to collect that can potentially cause urinary infections. It can also increase the odds of developing another painful problembladder stones, which are salt crystals that sometimes form when urinary concentration or stasis develops.
Incomplete emptying isnt something you are always aware you’re doing, but its a good idea to make an effort to ensure you are emptying your bladder, says Dr. Brito. He says this is a particular problem for older men with prostate issues. For them, incomplete bladder emptying can lead to a smaller functional bladder capacity and subsequent urinary frequency and urgency problems.
Often as men get older, they will not completely empty their bladder. The problem there is, if your bladder’s full and you empty it halfway and then drink fluids like you normally would, it fills up more quickly, says Dr. Brito.
Sometimes educating patients to take their time in the bathroom and ensure their bladder is as empty as possible can help, says Dr. Brito. Other times, patients may need medications or surgery to help the bladder empty better.
What Causes Urinary Retention
- Blockages, such as a stone, growth, or narrowing of your urethra
- A weak bladder muscle
- Nerve damage from diabetes, stroke, or spinal cord injury
- Bladder diverticula, which are pockets of urine that form in your bladder and do not empty
- Certain medicines, such as narcotics, antihistamines, or antidepressants
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Surgery For Women With Cystocele Or Rectocele
Women may need surgery to lift a fallen bladder or rectum. The most common procedure for cystocele and rectocele repair is for the surgeon to make an incision in the wall of the vagina to find the defect or hole in the membrane-a wall of tissue called fascia-that normally separates the vagina from the other pelvic organs. The surgeon places sutures in the fascia to close up the defect, then closes the incision in the vaginal wall with more stitches, removing any excess tissue. These suturing steps tighten the layers of tissue that separate the organs, creating more support for the pelvic organs.
Causes Of Incomplete Bladder Emptying
Urinary retention and incomplete emptying can result from a number of causes . In some cases, the flow of urine is blocked, for example, in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. This causes obstruction. Another form of impaired emptying is nonobstructive, that is, there is no problem with the urethra but the bladder muscle is less able to adequately contract. When the bladder cannot contract properly, some or all of the urine remains in the bladder. If left untreated, this condition can lead to urinary tract infection and damage to the kidneys.
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When To See Your Doctor
Itâs time to get things checked out if:
- You have to go to the bathroom a lot more than usual, and often canât hold in your urine until you get to the toilet
- You leak when you sneeze, cough, or even stand up
- You leak at random times, even if you didnât cough or sneeze
- You feel like your bladder still has urine in it, even after you go
- Your stream of urine is weak
- You have to strain when you urinate
- It hurts to urinate
How Is It Diagnosed
To diagnose urinary retention, a doctor will first ask about the history of your symptoms and perform a physical exam. The physical will include an examination of your genitals and rectum to look for any symptoms affecting those areas that may also affect the urinary tract.
Some other tests that may be used to confirm a diagnosis
likely be inserted to help quickly drain the urine. Local anesthesia will be used to make sure you dont feel pain or discomfort from the catheter.
If a catheter doesnt work or cant be used because of an injury or other condition, a doctor may insert a suprapubic catheter into the skin above your bladder to drain the urine.
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Urinary Retention: Does Drinking Water Really Help
Urinary retention is a condition characterized by an inability to fully empty the bladder. The bladder serves as a storage tank for urine, a substance made by the kidneys after they have filtered out waste and extra water from your blood. Once made, the urine travels to the bladder where it will stay until a person is ready to urinate. In a healthy individual, the bladder can hold up to two cups of urine comfortably for up to five hours.
Urinary retention can occur for a variety of reasons. Among men, an enlarged prostate is the most common cause. Among women, bladder muscle dysfunction and urinary stones are the typical culprits. Individuals with this condition may experience:
- Feeling the need to urinate right after using the bathroom
How To Fully Empty Your Bladder
One of the main culprits behind urinary urgency and bladder control issues is the fact that many women do not fully empty their bladder when they use the restroom. There are many possible reasons for this. Here are just a few:
1) They “hover” above the toilet seat. As stated in this article, “hovering” can lead to incomplete bladder evacuation due to tense pelvic muscles.
2) They do kegels while urinating. At some point in the history of “kegeling,” word got out that a good time to do kegels is while urinating . The logic behind this theory is that you use your pelvic floor muscles to voluntarily stop the flow of urine, hence if you can stop the flow while urinating, you will know whether or not you can successfully contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles.
Here’s the deal: it’s okay to try a kegel or two while you urinate in order to “check in” to see if you are doing kegels correctly . But this is not something you should do on a regular basis.
Doing kegels regularly while urinating can lead to incomplete bladder evacuation, which can make your bladder feel like it’s always full. You might think your bladder is the size of an acorn… But really, it’s simply the fact that it’s never fully empty! To fully empty your bladder, practice your kegel exercises when you are OFF the toilet.
We don’t want that!
When you’re on the toilet, don’t worry about getting the deed done quickly. Take your time.
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Empty Your Bladder Before And After Sexual Intercourse
There is nothing worse than frequent urination to put a damper on your sex life.
Even worse is if you get a UTI shortly after having sexyou might blame it on your partner and think you “picked up” something from them.
That might not be so. It might just be a case of poor planning. Use the method in this article before having sex and you will be much more comfortable both right after sex and the morning after.
- Always empty your bladder before sex and, just as importantly, again after sex. Make this a habit! Once you do the method a few times, you will be able to do it in about two minutes total. The first few times, it will take you about 6 to 8 minutes until you get the hang of it.
- Urinating before and after sex helps to eliminate the re-occurrence of that “Oh, I think I’m getting a UTI” feeling the morning after sex. Everyone has experienced this at least once.
- There is no sense in treating what you think is a UTI when, in fact, it is just an irritated bladder from sexual intercourse.
- Follow this method, as noted above, drink more water throughout the day after sex, and you should be fine.
Free Just Cant Wait Toilet Card
The most common cause of difficult urination in men is a blockage due to an enlarged prostate restricting the outlet from the bladder. For women one of the common causes of difficulty in urination is an anterior prolapse/bladder prolapse which can distort the urethra and restrict the flow of urine.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Urinary Retention
The signs can vary. Some people with the chronic form have a hard time starting the flow of urine. Some have a weak flow once they start. Others may feel the need to go but cant start. Others have to go a lot, while others still feel the need to go right after going. You may leak urine when you arent going because the bladder is full.
With the acute form, youre all of a sudden not able to go at all, or only able to go very small amounts. This occurs even though you have a full bladder. See a healthcare provider right away if this happens to you.
Who Is More Likely To Develop Urinary Retention
Urinary retention affects both men and women, but it occurs more often in men, especially as they get older. Men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia a condition in which the prostate gland is enlargedare more likely to develop urinary retention. As the prostate enlarges, it pushes against the urethra, blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder. BPH is a common prostate problem for men older than age 50.
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Anxiety : : Bladder Not Emptying Completely / Frequent Restroom Trips
I have been dealing with anxiety my whole life and have had off and issues with emptying my bladder. I will use the restroom and will either feel like i need to go again right after or will experience burning then I know that it didnt completely empty, will go back and be able to go a little more then the burning will fade. I have had this for a long time and wonder if I could have possibly been born with a minor abnormality causing it or the chronic anxiety not letting the muscles relax enough to empty my bladder. I am constantly told I have a bladder infection by doctors and think this might be the reason. I do experience a tiny burn at the end of the stream but no other bladder infection symptoms. Unless they are diagnosing it solely because of hematuria, which i do have a minor kidney issue that causes microscopic blood in my urine. Does anyone else with anxiety suffer from this? Could it just be the muscles too tense to let the bladder empty?
How Is Urinary Retention Treated
Treatment for urinary retention can depend on whether you have the acute form or the chronic form, as well as the cause of the condition. For the acute form, a catheter is put into the urethra to drain the bladder.
Treatment of the chronic form or the acute form that becomes chronicwill depend on the cause.
Medications for enlarged prostate: For men with an enlarged prostate, certain drugs may be used to try and open it up or shrink it. These include alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors . Also, procedures or surgery to open up the prostate may be tried.
Procedures for enlarged prostate: Many procedures are available when this problem is due to an enlarged prostate. Office-based treatments can be done with just local anesthetic only. These include water vapor therapy and prostatic urethral lift .
There are also several surgeries done under general anesthesia which are available. These include shaving down the inside of the prostate and opening up the prostate with a laser . A laser can also be used to carve out the entire enlarged portion of the prostate through the urethra , or this part of the prostate can be removed through the belly . All of these procedures can be effective in opening up the blockage.
Treatment for nerve issues: If the retention is due to a nerve-related issue, you may need to use a catheter on yourself at home.
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How Can I Spot The Symptoms
Acute urinary retention is extremely painful and causes abdominal bloating.
There may not be any noticeable symptoms with chronic urinary retention, but symptoms can include urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections, an increased urge to wee more frequently, difficulty getting started and producing a weak or interrupted stream of urine when weeing. There may also be mild abdominal discomfort.
How To Empty The Bladder
This article was co-authored by Robert Dhir, MD. Dr. Robert Dhir is a board certified Urologist, Urological Surgeon, and the Founder of HTX Urology in Houston, Texas. With over 10 years of experience, Dr. Dhirs expertise includes minimally-invasive treatments for enlarged prostate , kidney stone disease, surgical management of urological cancers, and mens health . His practice has been named a Center of Excellence for the UroLift procedure, and is a pioneer in non-surgical procedures for ED using his patented Wave Therapy. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Georgetown University and was awarded honors in pre-medical studies, urology, orthopedics, and ophthalmology. Dr. Dhir served as chief resident during his urological surgical residency at University of Texas at Houston / MD Anderson Cancer Center in addition to completing his internship in general surgery. Dr. Dhir was voted Top Doctor in Urology for 2018 to 2019, one of the top three Best Rated Urologists in 2019 & 2020 for Houston Texas, and Texas Monthly has named him to the 2019 & 2020 Texas Super Doctors Rising Stars list.There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 85% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 390,268 times.
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