Urination Problems

What are urination problems?

Urine carries waste that the kidneys filter out of the blood. Urine is stored in the bladder until passed from the body through a tube called the urethra when you urinate. Many people have problems passing urine. See your healthcare provider if you have problems urinating that do not get better within a day or two. The treatment depends on what is causing the problem. Common kinds of urination problems include:

Frequent Urination

Feeling the need to urinate often may happen during the day, at night, or both. It may be caused by:

  • Drinking more fluids than usual
  • Using of lot of caffeine, alcohol, or other substances that can irritate the bladder
  • Being anxious, nervous, or excited
  • Side effects of medicines
  • Pregnancy
  • Infection or inflammation in the prostate gland, vagina, bladder, or urethra
  • A bladder tumor or stone
  • Problems that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or spinal cord or brain injuries

Urgent Urination

Urgency is a sudden strong need to empty your bladder right away. You may feel like you will urinate in your underwear if you don’t quickly reach the toilet. It may also be called overactive bladder. There are many causes of overactive bladder, including:

  • Problems with the muscles that control urination
  • Bladder infection
  • Stress
  • Problems that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or spinal cord or brain injuries
  • Some medicines

Painful Urination

You may feel burning or burning and pain in the lower abdomen when you urinate. You may urinate less or less often to avoid the pain. Painful urination is most often caused by an infection of the bladder, kidneys, prostate, or the urethra. Painful urination may also be caused by:

  • Kidney or bladder stones
  • Injury
  • Problems that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or spinal cord or brain injuries
  • Cancer

Difficult Urination

Difficult urination means that you have problems passing urine, even though you have the urge to go. Symptoms may include:

  • When you urinate the urine passes more slowly so it takes longer to empty the bladder.
  • The flow or urine stops and starts while you are urinating.
  • You are unable to urinate. (This can be life-threatening.)

Difficult urination may be caused by:

  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • Some medicines
  • Problems that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or spinal cord or brain injuries
  • Scar tissue in the bladder or the tube that drains urine from the bladder

Loss of bladder control

When you cannot control urination, it is called a loss of bladder control, or incontinence. Symptoms include:

  • Urine leaking during a sneeze or cough, laugh, lifting, exercise, or when you bend over
  • Not reaching a toilet in time once the urge to urinate is felt
  • Continuing to dribble urine after you have finished urinating
  • Constant leakage of urine.

Incontinence may be caused or made worse by problems such as:

  • Constipation
  • Infection
  • Bladder stones
  • Some medicines
  • Thinning of vaginal tissue due to decreased estrogen after menopause
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-08
Last reviewed: 2014-12-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

Patient Portal

Our Patient Portal provides safe and secure online access to better communicate with your Tufts Medical Center Community Care doctor. This easy-to-use web tool is a convenient way to book appointments, request referrals, renew prescriptions, view medical records/test results and communicate with your healthcare provider from the privacy of your own computer.

PATIENT PORTAL >