What Is Urinary Retention?

Urinary retention is the inability to empty the bladder. People with this condition are unable to urinate or they feel frequent urges but only urinate small amounts.

Urinary Retention Symptoms

You may be suffering from urinary retention if:
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You experience difficulty starting to urinate

Urgency incontinence icon

Frequent Small Voids

You urinate only a small amount, often resulting in frequent trips to the toilet

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Slow Urine Stream

You need to strain when urinating and have a slow urine stream

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Post-Void Fullness

You experience lower abdominal bloating or discomfort

Your journey to find the urinary retention treatment solution that works for you


  • Discuss your symptoms
  • Start a baseline bladder diary
  • Undergo recommended diagnostic tests
  • Discuss treatment options


  • Behavioral management
  • Alpha-blocker medications (for men with prostate enlargement)
No symptom improvements?
Don’t give up!

Follow up with your doctor to discuss advanced therapy options


  • Sacral Neuromodulation
  • Clean intermittent self-catheterization
  • Surgical intervention

Urinary Retention Patient Care Pathway

Your doctor and his or her clinical team will follow a patient care pathway, which is a roadmap of the different treatment options available to you. The pathway starts with conservative treatments and then moves on to the advanced urinary retention therapies.

Hear From the Experts

Rebecca McCrery, MD, FPMRS

Rebecca McCrery, MD, FPMRS

Urinary retention refers to a condition where patients can’t go to the bathroom. There’s always a spectrum where you’ve got some patients that, maybe it presents more as their stream is really slow and it feels like they have to sit there forever and they can’t get it all out. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got patients where they just can’t go at all and they have to use catheters and rely on those catheters to empty the bladder.

Generally, urinary retention symptoms progress over time. It usually starts as more of a slower stream, and then the patients will get a diagnosis at some point of the fact that they’re not emptying their bladder well. Treatment wise, there’s not a lot of options for urinary retention, especially when it comes to urinary retention in women. Sacral Neuromodulation Therapy is a treatment we use quite a bit if a patient is not getting the results they are looking for with catheter use.

One of the advantages of Axonics Therapy is the small size of the device. Another nice feature is the 15+ year battery life. I think, from a patient’s standpoint, the idea of not having to come in for regular battery changes, which is a surgical procedure, is very appealing.


We are here to help answer any questions you may have about Axonics Therapy.


1. Pezzella A, McCrery R, Lane F, et al. Two-year outcomes of the ARTISAN-SNM study for the treatment of urinary urgency incontinence using the Axonics rechargeable sacral neuromodulation system. Neurourol Urodyn. 2021;40(2):714-721. doi:10.1002/nau.24615