Urinary retention is the loss of ability to empty the bladder. With chronic urinary retention, you may be able to urinate, but you have trouble starting a stream or emptying your bladder completely.
In the condition, you may urinate frequently, feel an urgent need to urinate but have little success when you get to the toilet. You may feel you still have to go after you’ve finished urinating.
Urinary retention occurs more in men than women and more common after the age of 50. A woman may experience urinary retention if her bladder sags or moves out of the normal position, a condition called cystocele. Some people have urinary retention from rectoceles. People of all ages and both sexes can have nerve disease or nerve damage that interferes with bladder function.
Acute urinary retention causes great discomfort, and even pain. You feel an urgent need to urinate but you simply can’t. The lower belly is bloated. Chronic urinary retention, by comparison, causes mild but constant discomfort. You have difficulty starting a stream of urine. Once started, the flow is weak. You may need to go frequently, and once you finish, you still feel the need to urinate. You may dribble between trips to the toilet because your bladder is constantly full, a condition called overflow incontinence.
In acute urinary retention, you can’t urinate at all even though you have a full bladder. It is a medical emergency that requires prompt action. Chronic urinary retention may not seem life-threatening, but can lead in serious problems.
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