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Urinary Retention: A Sign of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

When you feel the urge to urinate, but you can’t, it can be frustrating and painful. The inability to urinate is also referred to as urinary retention. The stream of urine may start and stop, you may just pee a small amount or not at all, yet you still feel like you need to. Urinary retention can happen suddenly (acute) or be chronic, with the gradual inability to empty your bladder. In older men, the most common cause of urinary retention is an enlarged prostate, also known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

Symptoms of Urinary Retention

With BPH, men may feel the need to urinate, but may not produce a steady stream of urine. The stream may start and stop. You may need to pee frequently, yet your bladder is not emptying completely. In the acute stages, you may not be able to urinate at all and have pain or swelling in your lower abdomen. Symptoms of urinary retention include:

  • Slowness or dribbling while urinating
  • Difficulty starting a urination stream
  • Increased urgency to urinate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Feeling the need to urinate after finishing urination
  • Leaking urine without any warning or urge

Causes of Urinary Retention

In most cases, urinary retention can be caused by a blockage that prevents urine from leaving your bladder or urethra, or when your bladder cannot maintain a strong enough pressure to expel all urine. However, some conditions can cause urinary retention, but in men, the most common cause is BPH. Causes include:

  • Enlarged prostate or BPH
  • Certain medications 
  • Nerve damage
  • Neurological problems
  • Prostatitis
  • Urinary tract infection 
  • Urinary tract stones 
  • Weak bladder muscles
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How Does BPH Cause Urinary Retention?

Urinary retention in older men is common. Older men develop urinary retention due to enlarged prostates (BPH) as a natural part of aging. An enlarged prostate can interfere with urine flow to the urethra, causing urinary retention. Because the prostate gland squeezes the urethra, it can block the flow of urine from the bladder. If you cannot urinate, it’s important to seek treatment immediately.

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Treatment for Urinary Retention

Treatment for urinary retention usually includes lifestyle changes, medication, draining the bladder, and minimally invasive procedures for BPH, such as Prostate Artery Embolization.

Lifestyle Changes

Along with treating the underlying cause of urinary retention, certain lifestyle changes may also help treat the condition. Lifestyle changes may include training your bladder to urinate at set times, pelvic floor muscle exercises, getting more fiber in your diet, drinking plenty of water and fluids, and getting regular physical activity.

PAE: Minimally Invasive Prostate Treatment

At American Prostate Centers, we proudly offer Prostate Artery Embolization, a minimally invasive treatment for an enlarged prostate gland that reduces symptoms, such as urinary retention. PAE is an outpatient procedure that uses image-guided technology to treat BPH and urinary problems, such as urinary retention. A small catheter is inserted in the groin into the vessels that supply blood to the prostate. Tiny microspheres are injected to reduce the blood supply to the prostate, causing it to shrink. The urethra is no longer being squeezed, allowing urine to flow naturally.

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What to Expect from Prostate Artery Embolization

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No hospital stay
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No scarring
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Same day procedure
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Fewer risks or complications
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Low risk of sexual side effects or incontinence
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Frequently Asked Questions About Urinary Retention

What is urinary retention?

Urinary retention is the inability to empty your bladder completely or at all.

What can I do to manage urinary retention?
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Avoid holding your urine for long periods
  • Empty your bladder completely before going to bed
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate the bladder
When should I see a doctor for urinary retention?

Urinary retention occurs when you have trouble emptying your bladder fully, and it can be a serious medical condition. Here are situations in which you should seek medical attention for urinary retention:

  • Blood in urine
  • Cannot urinate at all with bladder pain
  • Severe lower abdomen/back pain with urination issues
  • Difficulty starting/maintaining urination
  • Frequent urination or incomplete bladder emptying
  • Weak or intermittent urine stream

Our Prostate Specialists

Our affiliated interventional radiologists at American Prostate Centers are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. They have a proven track record of effectively treating men with BPH experiencing urinary retention.

Our American Prostate Centers in NY

American Prostate Centers in Astoria, Queens, is a state-of-the-art facility, with caring and compassionate doctors and clinically trained staff. We have experienced interventional radiologists performing Prostate Artery Embolization in NY, along with a caring staff to guide you through your procedure. All of our prostate centers are equipped with advanced imaging technology that is not readily available at other outpatient centers.

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Queens, NY 11102
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I had a good experience with my procedure and Dr. Mobley’s follow-up calls are great. I’ve never had a doctor who has been so concerned about following up after a procedure to see how I’m doing and if there are any post-procedure problems I may have experienced (which there aren’t). I’d highly recommend Dr. Mobley.
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Doctor was very thorough. Explaining what the procedure is all about. Tell me what I could realistically expect. Couldn’t have asked for a better consultation. Highly recommended if you have a prostate issue
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I was very pleased and satisfied on how Dr. David Mobley examined me and explained everything on what I need to know regarding my condition. He’s very professional and knowledgeable in all aspects of his profession. I would highly recommend him to my other friends!
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23:16 07 Jun 23
He puts his patients before himself, returning calls and e-mails quickly. Not only is he kind and considerate, he is an excellent physician. I had to have a procedure that requires me to be awake, and he talked me through it and kept me at ease. If I could give him more stars, I would.
Super friendly, tentative, once in the procedure rm the sx staff made you feel comfortable, easy,+ answered all questions. David mobley, MD answered all my questions, very informative, caring. I felt confident in his care
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This was the best experience I have had in such a long time and I have had quite a few procedures in the past both in patient and out including the procedure I was currently present for. No other surgeon has been so kind, transparent, and gentle. Not only did he personally come out beforehand to provide me with education on my procedure, but he talked me through every step of the way and made me feel so comfortable and relaxed. Not to mention his amazing staff! Despite being extremely nervous they kept me smiling and laughing throughout the whole process. 10/10 would recommend. Thank you so much guys!!
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13:49 22 Mar 23
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