Female Urinary Retention

Female urinary retention is a relatively uncommon cause of urinary incontinence. The urine in the enlarged bladder simply overflows and leaks out of the urethra. The causes of female urinary retention are:

• Urethral obstruction after prolapse or continence surgery

• Urethra being kinked by a large prolapse (cystocele or uterine prolapse)

• Neurological damage (spinal nerves not working say after a spinal injury, after radical pelvic surgery or neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or severe diabetes)

Women with urinary retention can present with urinary leakage that does not fit the classical urgency or stress incontinence. They may also experience recurrent urinary tract infections due to the urine pooling in the bladder. Careful examination, bladder scanning and urodynamics are required to diagnose and determine the relevant cause.