What is Urinary Hesitancy?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2018
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Urinary hesitancy is a condition in which a person has trouble releasing urine from the body. He or she may have problems beginning the urination process or continuing urine flow once it starts. The condition can occur in anyone, but tends to be most common in older men.

The primary symptom of urinary hesitancy is an urge to urinate without being able to. In mild cases, urine will typically come out eventually, but it is a very faint stream. After urinary hesitancy continues to occur, urinating may slow to the point where it only comes out in slow dribbles instead of a stream. The condition tends to get worse over time if left untreated and can possibly lead to pain in the bladder if urine builds up and isn’t discharged.

One of the most common causes of urinary hesitancy is benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition more typically referred to as an enlarged prostate. The prostate gland is a round male reproductive organ containing a bodily fluid that helps sperm move more quickly after ejaculation. The gland is located around the urethra, or the thin tube that urine travels through in order to leave the body. When a man has benign prostatic hyperplasia, the prostate increases in size and pushes on the urethra. That extra pressure constricts the urethra and makes urine flow more difficult.


Urinary hesitancy can also occur in women and is often due to urinary tract infections, a bacterial infection in the bladder or urethra. The infection is generally the result of bacteria from fecal matter coming into contact with the genital area. Urinary tract infections can also occur in males, but tend to happen more often in women. The infection may irritate the bladder and make a person feel he or she has to urinate often, although only small amounts will come out.

The treatment options for urinary hesitancy depend on the underlying cause. Hesitancy that is a result of an enlarged prostate may be treated with blood pressure medication. Blood pressure medication can potentially help relax the bladder and urethra muscles and relieve the pressure from the enlarged prostate. If urinary hesitancy is due to a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics; however, some people tend to have recurring urinary tract infections.


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