BPH

What Could a Weak Urine Flow Be Telling Me about My Health?

Problems with urine flow are common. Some people experience difficulty starting or maintaining urine flow. In other words, they have urinary hesitancy. While men and women alike can have weak urine flow, the condition is most prevalent in elderly males.

Considering the immense importance of proper urine flow for our health, in this post, we will discuss the background of the weak urine stream and how to improve urine flow. Does it tell us something about our health? Why does it happen? How to remedy it naturally? Read on to learn more.

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What causes a weak urinary stream?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. Most men experience BPH problems as they age. Since the prostate gland is below the bladder, it blocks the flow of urine through the urethra. As a result, problems with urination occur. An enlarged prostate causes urinary hesitancy and intermittency, weak urine stream, nocturia, urinary frequency, urge incontinence, and the sensation of incomplete bladder emptying and high residual urine. About 90% of men develop BPH by the age of 85. Moreover, estimates show over 14 million men in the United States have this problem. On a global level, 30 million men display symptoms of BPH. 

Besides prostatic hyperplasia, another common cause of weak urine flow is the prostate or urinary tract infection. 

What health problems could it be a symptom of?

Weak urine flow always happens for a reason. It can be a symptom or a consequence of some health-related issues. Some medical issues can contribute to urinary obstruction and create problems such as overflow incontinence, overactive bladder, stress incontinence, among other things. Weak flow is a common urinary problem. Besides, the enlarged prostate, weak urine stream, or urinary hesitancy can be a sign of the following health problems.

Uncommon problems 

Firstly, it is important to mention posterior urethral valves, a congenital problem that means boys are born with extra flaps of tissue. The valve can obstruct the flow of urine.

Then, there is also meatal stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the urethral opening called the meatus. In cases when the narrowing becomes significant, the problem has a significant impact on bladder muscle. As a result, urinary symptoms such as weak stream occur.

Now, let’s see other, more common, reasons behind the weak stream. 

Infection

We briefly mentioned the infections above. Besides enlarged prostate, many men can suffer from weak urine flow due to the infections such as:

  • Prostatitis – swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland. Acute bacterial prostatitis often results from common strains of bacteria. The infection can start when bacteria in urine leak into the prostate. But, various lower urinary tract symptoms may occur. Symptoms of prostatitis include difficulty urinating (hesitant urination), dysuria (pain or burning sensation when urinating), frequent urination, especially at night, urinary urgency, blood in urine, abdominal pain, pain in the perineum (the area between scrotum and rectum), painful ejaculation, to name a few. Some men can also experience urinary retention. While acute urinary retention may not be a source of concern for many, chronic urinary retention is a problem you need to manage and follow the doctor’s instructions.  

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – usually caused by bacteria, but some cases occur due to fungi and, in rare instances, viruses. Keep in mind that a weak bladder neck can lead to complications such as UTI. Men and women alike can have weak urine flow due to UTI and other problems affecting the lower urinary tract. They may experience an increased frequency of urination without passing much urine. A common sign of UTI is urinary incontinence. 

It’s also useful to mention weak urine flow can also occur due to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Nerve damage and nervous system disorders

Some conditions can damage nerves and interfere with urine flow. For example, diabetes can impair nerve conduction and lead to damage that harms bladder function. As a result, a patient urinates less often, experiences difficulty emptying the bladder completely, has a weak stream of urine, finds it difficult to start urinating, and has dripping after urination.

Besides diabetes, other conditions that may cause weak urine flow include:

  • Nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis 

  • Brain or spinal cord infections

  • Childbirth

  • Accidents 

Urethral stricture

Urethral stricture is the scarring that narrows the urethra, a tube that carries urine out of the body. So formation of the stricture obstructs the stream of urine from the bladder. But, when left unmanaged, it can lead to various urinary tract problems, including infection or inflammation.

Symptoms of urethral stricture include:

  • Reduced urine flow

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder

  • Increased urge to urinate

  • Pain, straining, and/or difficulty urinating

  • Spraying of the urine stream

Scar tissue in the urethra forms due to numerous causes, including:

  • Radiation therapy

  • A medical procedure that involves inserting an endoscope, or some other instrument, into the urethra

  • Sexually transmitted infections

  • Long-term or intermittent use of a catheter

  • Prostate cancer

  • Urethral cancer

  • Injury or trauma to the prostate tissue, urethra, or pelvic floor

  • Enlarged prostate or surgery to reduce or remove the enlarged prostate gland

Paruresis (shy bladder syndrome)

Paruresis, also known as shy bladder syndrome, is a condition wherein a person cannot urinate when other people are nearby. About 20 million people in the United States have shy bladder syndrome. If you are uncomfortable urinating when other people are near, the urine flow weakens in certain situations.

Surgery

Anesthesia administered before the surgical procedure can damage some nerves. Urinary difficulties may ensure. Moreover, undergoing surgery on the bladder, kidneys, or urethra can contribute to the above-mentioned urethral stricture formation. This can also weaken urine flow.

Medications

Some medications may contribute to problems with urination. These may include:

  • Antidepressants

  • Cold treatment medications

  • Nasal decongestants 

  • Anti-allergy medications

  • Anticholinergics

But, if you are taking these medications and have weak urine flow, the answer isn’t avoiding taking them. You need to consult your doctor first. 

Bladder outlet obstruction

Bladder outlet obstruction affects men. It is a blockage that slows or stops the urine stream out of the bladder. The condition can cause urine to back up in your system and cause problems such as difficulty urinating. Obstruction of the bladder neck can also lead to a weak stream.

How To Increase Urine Flow

Natural remedies for chronic urinary hesitancy

Chronic urinary hesitancy is not something to ignore. A proactive approach is the best strategy to increase urine flow and avoid potential complications. Besides doctor-recommended treatment (see below), you may also want to try some home remedies.

These include:

  • Do Kegel exercises because they strengthen pelvic floor muscle 

  • Stay active, avoid a sedentary lifestyle

  • Meditate

  • Don’t delay, when you need to urinate, go right away and always strive to empty the bladder completely

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine

  • Lose weight

  • Take a warm bath or shower 

  • Try to keep a log or diary of urination patterns to identify triggers that contribute to urinary hesitancy

  • Massage the bladder area

  • Apply a hot water bottle or heating bad on your abdomen

  • Place a few drops of peppermint oil into the toilet water. The vapor will come in contact with the perineum and increase urine flow, thus helping you improve bladder control.

Medical treatment

So, if you experience incontinence, weak urine flow, and persistent or recurrent urinary hesitancy, you need to see the doctor. The last thing you want to do is ignore this problem. The doctor can determine the cause of urinary hesitancy and recommend an adequate treatment approach. But to identify the severity of the problem, the doctor will order a urinary flow test.

Seek immediate medical assistance if you have urinary hesitancy along with symptoms such as low back pain, chills, fever, shaking, and vomiting. Also, if you are unable to urinate at all, you should see your doctor immediately. 

The exact medical treatment depends on the cause of weak urine flow, i.e., urinary hesitancy.

So, treatment of this health problem may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat the infection

  • Medications to alleviate symptoms of prostate enlargement 

  • The surgical procedure to cut out or dilate scar tissue in the urethra

  • Surgery to relieve prostate blockage (transurethral resection of the prostate – TURP)

Conclusion

Above all, weak urine stream is a sign something is not right. This problem is usually a symptom of a bigger medical issue. Further, the causes of a weak urine flow range from an enlarged prostate to infections and the formation of scar tissue. So, see your doctor if you experience weak urine flow. Because treatment of the underlying cause can help improve the urine stream.

Next Up

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Find out 6 Natural Remedies For Slow Urine Flow.

Sources

  1. How common is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?. MedScape. https://www.medscape.com/answers/437359-90389/how-common-is-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia-bph 
  2. Prostatitis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostatitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355766
  3. Golbidi, S., & Laher, I. (2010). Bladder dysfunction in diabetes mellitus. Frontiers in pharmacology1, 136. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2010.00136
  4. Paruresis fact sheet. International Paruresis Association. https://paruresis.org/content/uploads/fact_sheet.pdf
  5. Urination – difficulty with flow. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003143.htm

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