Going to the bathroom is something you take for granted — until suddenly, you can’t. It’s surprisingly common for men to have trouble peeing, especially as they age into their 50s and beyond.
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“It’s not something men talk about, but it is something many men will deal with as they get older,” says urologist and men’s health specialist Petar Bajic, MD.
But you don’t have to grit your teeth and hold it. Dr. Bajic shares how to deal with this inconvenient problem so you can get back to going with the flow.
An enlarged prostate is, by far, the top reason men have trouble peeing. The prostate gland sits right below the bladder. Urine travels from the bladder through a channel that runs right through the prostate to the urethra, where it exits the body.
As men age, the prostate gets larger. “It compresses the channel within the prostate and makes it harder for urine to pass through,” Dr. Bajic says. That can lead to a variety of symptoms:
- Weak urine stream.
- Straining to push urine out.
- Trouble getting the flow started or a stream that stops and starts.
- Feeling that you can’t empty your bladder.
- Dribbling after you leave the bathroom.
- Getting up to urinate more during the night.
When it’s hard to pee, you’re less likely to empty your bladder. That can lead to frequent urination and even dribbles or accidents.
How to deal if you have trouble urinating
There’s no way to prevent an enlarged prostate. But if you’re having urinary symptoms, there are some adjustments that may make it easier to find your flow.
Hydrate with care
Drink fluids regularly, but remember that the more water you swallow, the more often you’ll have to go. Dr. Bajic recommends not drinking anything after dinner if you wake often to use the bathroom during the night.
Avoid artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the bladder. And limit coffee, tea and soda — the caffeine can make you have to go more.
Don’t hold it
“Use the bathroom regularly throughout the day. Don’t hold it in,” Dr. Bajic advises. “And make sure going to the bathroom is the very last thing you do before bed.”
Practice the “double void”
If you feel like you can’t fully empty your bladder, the double void may be right for you. “After you finish going to the bathroom, wait for 30 seconds to a minute. Then try again to squeeze out the last drops,” Dr. Bajic says. That can help empty your tank, so you won’t have the urge to go again in a few minutes.
Skip the supplements
Some herbs and nutritional supplements are marketed for prostate health, Dr. Bajic says. But studies haven’t found any benefits of these treatments compared to prescription medications, so don’t count on them for relief.
The No. 1 tip for pee problems
While those tips can help you manage your stream struggles, they don’t replace Dr. Bajic’s top recommendation: “If you’re having bothersome symptoms, see a urologist.”
You might be hoping to avoid that, but it’s likely necessary. “Trouble urinating can be a big inconvenience, but it can also negatively affect your health,” he explains. “A prolonged blockage can put pressure on the kidneys that causes permanent damage over time. You may also be more likely to get urinary tract infections and stones in the kidney and bladder.”
And while an enlarged prostate is often the cause of urinary symptoms, it’s not always the culprit. Though less common, some types of cancer and infections can make it hard to go. “If you see blood in the urine, go straight to the doctor. And if you’re unable to urinate at all, go to the emergency room,” Dr. Bajic says.
Treatments for enlarged prostate
Now the good news. If your overachieving prostate is making it hard to pee, there are several treatment options that work well to relieve symptoms:
- Medications: “The first thing we usually recommend is an oral medication. It’s typically a once-a-day pill, with few side effects,” Dr. Bajic says.
- Minimally invasive treatments: If you aren’t into taking pills (or they aren’t fully relieving symptoms), urologists can treat the problem with minimally invasive procedures. One procedure uses steam to shrink the inside of the prostate. Another holds the channel open with a series of implants. Both are done in the doctor’s office (after plenty of numbing) and have a low risk of side effects.
- Surgery: For more severe cases, surgery can open the channel through the prostate to relieve symptoms. This is typically done under anesthesia. Some surgeries can be done as an outpatient and others could require an overnight stay in the hospital.
“There’s nothing we haven’t already heard as urologists,” Dr. Bajic adds. “If your muffler is broken, you go to a mechanic. If you’re having urination problems, see a urologist. We have plenty of tools to solve this problem and improve your quality of life.”