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What are some causes of urinary retention?

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Quick Answer

Causes of urinary retention include obstruction of the urethra, nerve problems, medications and weakened bladder muscles, notes MedicineNet. Some common obstructions include benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract stones, constipation, cancer and urethral strictures.

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Urinary retention in men in their 50s and 60s is sometimes due to the enlargement of the prostate gland, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, reports MedicineNet. As the prostate enlarges, it presses against the urethra and makes the bladder wall thicker, weakening it and causing the man to fail to void the bladder fully.

Strictures of the urethra are characterized by its closing or narrowing, often from scar tissue caused by injury, frequent urinary tract infections, disease or surgery. These strictures sometimes result from surgery for enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or injury to the perineum or penis. Failure of the muscles surrounding the urethra to relax often causes urinary retention in women. In addition, stones that develop from crystal formation in the urine can lodge inside the bladder, causing urine buildup.

Stool buildup caused by constipation also causes urinary retention, notes MedicineNet. The hard stool pushes against the urethra and bladder, pinching the urethra and causing fluid buildup. Nerve problems resulting from stroke, diabetes or vaginal childbirth, and medications, including some prescription and nonprescription medications can cause the problem as well.

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