Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Symptoms of urinary retention include the inability to urinate, which occurs when an individual is not fully able to empty his or her bladder, despite having the urge to urinate. Urinary retention may be an acute (happening suddenly) or longstanding (chronic) problem in both men or women and can be associated with other bladder problems or abnormalities within the pelvis. Urinary retention is more common in men than women and increases in frequency as men age. Any condition that results in a physical blockage of the urethra (the tube through which urine exits the bladder) can result in the inability to urinate. Another cause of urinary retention is a defect or disruption in the function of the nerves that control urination. Some medications can cause or worsen urinary retention. Examples of these include general anesthetic agents, stimulants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed and others) and phenylpropanolamine (Dexatrim and others), and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, U.S. National Institutes of Health. <http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/UrinaryRetention/>.
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...
Better Sex After 50
It's never too late to improve your sex life. Learn how to overcome common health conditions affecting those over 50 such as...
Enlarged Prostate (BPH) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition cause by an enlarged prostate. Get more information on how an enlarged prostate...
Causes of Urinary Retention
Bladder Infection (Cystitis)
Bladder infection is an infection of the bladder, usually caused by bacteria or, rarely, by Candida. Certain people, including...
Blood clots can occur in the venous and arterial vascular system. Blood clots can form in the heart, legs, arteries, veins,...
Constipation (Home Remedies and Medications for Relief)
Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week....
A cystocele is also known as a fallen or prolapsed bladder. Heavy lifting and straining may cause a cystocele, which causes urine...
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...
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...
Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is an inflammatory disease of the bladder that can cause ulceration and...
Multiple Sclerosis (MS Symptoms, Causes, and Life Expectancy)
Multiple sclerosis or MS is an autoimmune disorder in which brain and spinal cord nerve cells become demyelinated. This damage...
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. Risk factors include age, family history, ethnicity, and...
Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate Gland)
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. Causes of prostatitis include STDs, bacteria from urinary tract...
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...
Stroke (Signs, Symptoms, Warning Signs)
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding...
A urethral stricture, or narrowing of the urethra, may cause decreased urine output. Symptoms include painful urination, urinary...
Other Causes of Urinary Retention
Examples of Medications for Urinary Retention
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Women's Health Newsletter