Difficulty urinating can be a result of anatomical abnormalities within the genitourinary tract. In men, enlargement of the prostate gland, due most commonly to benign prostatic hyperplasia and less commonly to prostate cancer, can cause difficulty urinating. In both men and women, difficulty urinating can result from neurological or muscular conditions that affect function of the bladder. When it becomes difficult to urinate, other symptoms such as dribbling (leaking or mild incontinence) and a weak urine stream may also be present. Certain medications can also cause problems with urination. Scar tissue from surgery or trauma can also cause problems with the flow of urine. Infections of the urinary tract or of the nervous system can also cause retention of urine.
Other causes of difficulty urinating
- Bladder Stones
- Central Nervous System Infections
- Certain Medications
- Poisoning (Heavy Metals)
- Shy Bladder Syndrome
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (Enlarged Prostate) Quiz
Take the Enlarge Prostate Quiz and challenge your knowledge of prostate problems. Learn causes, symptoms, treatments, and...
Enlarged Prostate (BPH) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
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Picture of Prostate
Side View of the Prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. See a picture of the...
Picture of Prostate Gland
A gland within the male reproductive system that is located just below the bladder. See a picture of Prostate Gland and learn...
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Prostate Cancer Symptoms, PSA Test, Treatments
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Causes of Difficulty Urinating
Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a condition that affects the nervous system, causing weakening of the muscles and reflexes. Adenoviruses, poliovirus, non-polio enteroviruses, and West Nile virus can cause AFM. Symptoms and signs include drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing and moving the eyes, facial weakness, and slurred speech. There is no treatment for acute flaccid myelitis.
A cystocele is also known as a fallen or prolapsed bladder. Heavy lifting and straining may cause a cystocele, which causes urine leakage and incomplete emptying of the bladder. Mild cystoceles may require no treatment, while large cystoceles may require surgery.
Enlarged Prostate (BPH, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate) is very common in men over 50 years of age. Half of all men over the age of 50 develop symptoms of BPH, but few need medical treatment. This noncancerous enlargement of the prostate can impede urine flow, slow the flow of urine, create the urge to urinate frequently and cause other symptoms like complete blockage of urine and urinary tract infections. More serious symptoms are urinary tract infections (UTIs) and complete blockage of the urethra, which may be a medical emergency. BPH is not cancer. Not all men with the condition need treatment, and usually is closely monitored if no symptoms are present. Treatment measures usually are reserved for men with significant symptoms, and can include medications, surgery, microwave therapy, and laser procedures. Men can prevent prostate problems by having regular medical checkups that include a prostate exam.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Life Expectancy
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage results in symptoms that may include numbness, weakness, vertigo, paralysis, and involuntary muscle contractions. Different forms of MS can follow variable courses from relatively benign to life-threatening. MS is treated with disease-modifying therapies. Some MS symptoms can be treated with medications.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and diet. Prostate cancer is diagnosed by digital rectal exam, prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, and prostate biopsy. Symptoms may include frequent need to urinate, incontinence, pain, blood in the urine, fatigue, and more. Prognosis and treatment depend on cancer staging. Watchful waiting, surgery, radiation, cryotherapy, and other management strategies are available. Research and clinical trials strive to find new and better treatments for prostate cancer.
Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate Gland)
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. Signs and symptoms of prostatitis include painful or difficulty urinating; fever; chills; body aches; blood in the urine; pain in the rectum, groin, abdomen, or low back; and painful ejaculation or sexual dysfunction. Causes of prostatitis include STDs, bacteria from urinary tract infections, or E. coli. Treatment for prostatitis depends on if it is a bacterial infection or chronic inflammation of the prostate gland.
Prostatitis vs. BPH (Enlarged Prostate) Differences and Similarities
Prostatitis and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, enlarged prostate gland) are both conditions of the prostate gland. There are four types of prostatitis that can be caused by infections (usually bacterial) or other health conditions or problems, acute bacterial prostatitis (type I), chronic bacterial prostatitis (type II), chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome (type III), and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis (type IV). BPH is inflammation of the prostate gland, and most men have the condition by age 50. Doctor's don't know what causes this inflammation, but they theorize that it may be related to hormones. Both of these conditions can cause similar symptoms like low back pain, pain during urination, or difficulty or the inability to urinate. However, prostatitis has many more symptoms and signs than BPH, and they based on the type of prostatitis. Examples include low back pain and/or abdominal pain, painful urination, fever, chills, feeling tired, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), painful urination intermittently, intermittent obstruction urinary tract symptoms (frequent, painful, or incomplete urination), pelvic pain and/or discomfort, pain with ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction (ED). If you think you have either of these conditions contact your doctor or other health care professional. Bacterial prostatitis can be cured with antibiotics; however, there is no cure for BPH.
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include: weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
A urethral stricture, or narrowing of the urethra, may cause decreased urine output. Symptoms include painful urination, urinary retention, and pelvic pain. Surgery is the only treatment for people with uncontrolled symptoms of urethral narrowing.
Urinary retention (inability to urinate) may be caused by nerve disease, spinal cord injury, prostate enlargement, infection, surgery, medication, bladder stone, constipation, cystocele, rectocele, or urethral stricture. Symptoms include discomfort and pain. Treatment depends upon the cause of urinary retention.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Urinary Tract Infections in Children
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in children. Symptoms and signs include fever and abdominal pain. Associated symptoms and signs include flank pain, vomiting, and blood in the urine. Treatment for a UTI involves antibiotic therapy.