Not being able to urinate at all, despite a strong urge to, is an urgent problem. Usually, the severe discomfort or pain that results drives a person to seek medical attention quickly.
More commonly, people have difficulty urinating. In men, this is usually caused by an enlarged prostate gland. The urethra, the tube through which urine passes, travels through the prostate on its way to the penis. The prostate slowly grows with age, and in some men this squeezes the urethra and reduces urine flow. Medications can shrink or relax the prostate, improving urination. If medication fails, prostate surgery can restore urine flow.
Women who can’t urinate sometimes have a urinary tract infection (UTI), and antibiotics may be necessary. Other causes of blocked urination include medications, kidney stones, tumors in the abdomen or pelvis, or a narrowed urethra from past infections.
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