Urinary retention is the inability to urinate or to fully empty the bladder. It can be caused by:
- Anesthesia given during surgery. This will be temporary.
- Blockage in the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body.
- Damage to the nerves that trigger the bladder to empty.
- Side effect of certain medications.
- Late effect associated with radiation therapy to the pelvis that encompasses the bladder or urethra.
How is it managed?
You need to know what is causing the retention. Your provider may order a cystogram, a procedure in which the the lining of the bladder and urethra are looked at. If tests of your urine show that you have an infection antibiotics may be prescribed. You should drink 6-8 glasses of water each day and empty your bladder at least 4-6 times per day to keep your bladder healthy.
When should I contact my care team?
Contact your care provider if you have urinary symptoms, including:
- Lower abdominal (belly) pain with the urge to urinate.
- Passing a small amount of urine without relief of the urge to urinate.
- Signs of a urinary tract infection (back pain, fever, painful urination, blood in the urine).
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Urinary Retention.
Merck Manual. Genitourinary Disorders. 2020.