Why Am I Having Difficulty Urinating?

The proper function of the urinary system is essential to the body. Kidneys filter waste from the blood and remove them with urine. Consciously holding your urine can cause your bladder to atrophy, or bacteria to multiply in your urinary system. With this, a urinary tract infection may develop, spread to the kidneys, and scar, damaging their function. If you are having difficulty urinating, make sure to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Why Am I Having Difficulty Urinating?

Pain as you urinate and incontinence — meaning leaking or a constant sensation of ‘needing to go — can distract you from going about your daily life. There are multiple urinary complications that you could experience. Each comes with its own symptoms and risks.


Hot climates accelerate the loss of fluid. Humid climates especially prevent sweat from evaporating from a person’s skin, causing their body to heat up further. Many people also forget to drink water throughout the day or don’t even realize they’re thirsty. Others yet have difficulty drinking fluids without a straw or require help to reach for water.
Additionally, people who habitually consume drinks with caffeine and alcohol should note that these substances are diuretics. Diuretics drive fluid out of the body, necessitating more fluid intake to prevent dehydration.

As a result, having too little fluid in your body may end up in concentrated urine. This can irritate your bladder and make you feel the urge to go more frequently and strongly. In fact, this can increase your risk of contracting a urinary tract infection.


As excess sugar concentrates in the kidneys of people with diabetes, fluids follow the waste sugar from the bloodstream. Many people with diabetes end up having to urinate more frequently than those who don't have diabetes.

Dysfunctional Bladder

Formally referred to as ‘stress incontinence,’ this term refers to when the sphincter that prevents pee from exiting weakens. Oftentimes resulting in leaking when you exercise, sneeze, cough, or lift something. Another issue is known as ‘overflow incontinence,’ wherein the body produces more urine than what the bladder can hold or the bladder itself has difficulty properly emptying.

Extra Weight and Aging

Obesity puts additional body weight and pressure on the bladder, giving off the sensation that you need to go. Similar to the above point, seniors may suffer from incontinence as their bladder muscles weaken.

Prostate Issues

This walnut-sized gland is found between the bladder and the penis and surrounds the urethra. If you have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or inflammation, you may feel the urge to go more often and have difficulty ‘holding it in’. People with BPH tend to go often throughout the day and night, leak, have difficulty urinating, and have a weak urine stream when it does come. Prostatitis, or inflammation in or around the prostate gland, may cause pain as or after you go.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Chlamydia (a bacterial infection), gonorrhea (in layman’s terms, ‘the clap’), and trichomoniasis (or ‘trich’) may cause pain or difficulty when urinating.

Urinary Tract Infection

Oftentimes, UTIs are the cause of bacteria traveling from the anus to the urinary tract. People born with vaginas are more susceptible to UTIs, as the urethra is much shorter than those with penises. The bacteria has less of a distance to travel between the opening and the bladder. Urologists use different medical terms to refer to the location of the infection.

You have cystitis when your bladder is infected, or you may experience pain during urination. General pain in the pelvic area, or a frequent feeling of needing to go. You might also see cloudy or bloody urine. Mild cases like urethritis are isolated to the urethra, where you feel burning when you go.

The most severe of UTIs is pyelonephritis. Due to an infection in your kidneys, you may experience fever, chills, and vomiting. You can also feel pain in your upper back or side, where the kidneys are located.

Various Blockages

Blockages in the ureter, the tube that connects the kidneys and the bladder, can make urination painful and cause blood in your urine. This may be due to a kidney stone that’s formed in your kidney, ureter, or urethra. These stones are crystals that form from minerals such as calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine when urine lacks the fluid content necessary to dilute them.

As they disrupt the flow of urine, irritation and blockage cause the symptoms associated with kidney stones. You may be experiencing a constant dull pain around the stomach area, pain at your sides, cloudy and bloody urine, nausea, and fever.

Constipation, endometriosis (a condition that causes the tissue lining the uterus to grow outside of the uterus itself), and tumors (may be cancerous or noncancerous) can also result in blockages.

Additional Reading: Bladder Health for Older Adults


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