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Urinary Retention in Men


Urinary retention is a condition that develops if your bladder does not empty when you urinate.

Male Urinary System


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Your urinary tract or prostate could be injured during surgery. You may have trouble breathing, bleeding, or an infection from surgery. You may also have an infection or too much bleeding after surgery. Even after surgery, there is a chance that you will have another episode of urinary retention.
  • If left untreated, you may not be able to pass urine and get an infection. This may cause damage to your urinary tract, especially your kidneys. Your infection may spread or you could have kidney failure. This may lead to more serious and often life-threatening problems, such as heart, liver, or brain damage.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Foley catheter:

This is a tube caregivers put into your bladder to drain your urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will help prevent infection and other problems caused by urine flowing back into your bladder. Do not pull on the catheter, because this may cause pain and bleeding, and the catheter could come out. Keep the catheter tubing free of kinks so your urine will flow into the bag. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible, to help prevent infection.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


  • 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors: These medicines help decrease the size of the prostate. This may help reduce the pressure on your urethra and allow you to empty your bladder.
  • Alpha blockers: These medicines relax the muscles in your prostate and bladder and may help you urinate more easily.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight an infection in your bladder caused by bacteria. Take them as directed.
  • Hormone therapy: This medicine may help slow tumor growth.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain. You may need a doctor's order for this medicine. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.


  • Blood or urine tests: A sample of your blood or urine is collected to check for infection or prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA may be elevated in prostate cancer.
  • Imaging tests:
    • Ultrasound: Gel will be put on your abdomen and a small wand will be moved across your abdomen. It may also be placed in your rectum. The wand uses sound waves to send pictures of your bladder, prostate, rectum, or other organs to a monitor.
    • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your prostate, kidneys, ureters, and bladder. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye.
    • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your prostate, kidneys, ureters, and bladder. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.
    • Kidneys, ureters, and bladder x-ray: Caregivers use these pictures to find the cause of your urinary retention. Dye is put into your IV, which makes these organs show up better in x-ray pictures. People who are allergic to shellfish may be allergic to this dye. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish, dyes, or other medicines.
    • Cystoscopy: A cystoscopy allows caregivers to look for problems inside your bladder. A cystoscope is put into your bladder through your urethra. The urethra is the tube that urine flows through when you urinate. The cystoscope is a long tube with a lens and a light on the end. The scope may be hooked to a camera or monitor, and pictures may be taken. A tissue sample may also be taken during your cystoscopy. During this test, small tumors may be removed or bleeding may be stopped.
    • Cystourethrogram: You may have a dye injected into your bladder through a small catheter. X-rays are taken while your bladder is full and you urinate. The dye helps caregivers see what happens when you urinate.
  • Other tests:
    • Prostate biopsy: A sample of your prostate or its fluid may be taken and sent to the lab for tests.
    • Urine flow test: This test checks if the muscles of your bladder work properly. It also measures how much urine your bladder can hold. This test can also show whether your bladder fills and empties in a normal way.


  • Surgery: You may need surgery to remove a blockage so urine can drain from the bladder. A hollow tube, such as a shunt or stent, may also be placed to help widen a narrowed part of your urinary tract. If you have an enlarged prostate, your caregiver may also need to remove your prostate.
  • Procedures: You may need a procedure to decrease the size of your prostate or remove your prostate.

Learn more about Urinary Retention in Men (Inpatient Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.