Voiding Dysfunction


Voiding dysfunction refers to issues with urination related to poor coordination between the bladder muscles and the urethra. Too relaxed or overly active pelvic floor muscles may be the underlying cause of urination abnormalities.

Issues that arise out of poor coordination between the muscles and urethra may collectively be called lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

Adults of any age may experience voiding dysfunction. The right treatment for LUTS will depend on the root cause of the dysfunction.

Voiding Dysfunction In Men

An obstruction may cause poor bladder-urethra coordination in men. This may be due to an enlarged prostate or an inflamed or irritated prostate gland (prostatitis) that affects urination patterns.

Other potential causes of blockages that could lead to voiding dysfunction include bladder stones, bladder tumors, and scar tissue in the urethra (urethral strictures). Overactive pelvic floor muscles may also cause issues with irregular bladder contractions. Symptoms that may indicate voiding dysfunction in men include:

  • Urinary hesitancy
  • Urinary dribbling
  • Weak urine streams
  • Difficulty urinating

Common Symptoms of Voiding Dysfunction

Frequency of urination, and/or voiding more than eight to 10 times a day, is an early sign of voiding dysfunction. Another sign of voiding dysfunction is urinary incontinence, or loss of voluntary control of the bladder.

The Diagnosis Process

Men experiencing symptoms of voiding dysfunction will need to undergo a series of tests to identify the underlying cause. A few tests the patient may need to undergo include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis to look for signs of an infection or an underlying condition
  • Uroflowmetry test to review urination patterns
  • Bladder ultrasound to see how much urine is left in the bladder after urination
  • Bladder pressure or urodynamic tests using a special catheter with sensors

Treatment Options for Voiding Dysfunction

Men experiencing mild voiding issues may benefit from pelvic floor therapy. If the voiding dysfunction is primarily caused by leftover urine in the bladder, men may need intermittent self-catheterization (ISC) to minimize the problem.

An overactive bladder may be restored to normal contraction rates with muscle relaxants. Other patients may be given a neuromodulation device that produces mild electrical impulses to correct problems with nerve signals. Treatment for voiding dysfunction could also involve:

  • Removal of urethral scar tissue
  • Bladder training techniques such as double voiding
  • Separate treatment for underlying causes (e.g., enlarged prostate, bladder stones)
  • Botox injections to calm spastic bladder muscles

In some cases, patients may experience improvement with little or no treatment. Women with voiding dysfunction may experience symptoms due to pregnancy. Another underlying cause could be a minor infection.

If voiding dysfunction isn’t caused by structural issues or underlying medical conditions, symptoms may be managed or avoided with the help of pelvic floor exercises. These exercises typically target the muscles around the uterus or prostate and large intestines.

Certain foods should also be avoided to avoid triggering excessive bladder activity. Patients might consider avoiding spicy dishes, sports drinks, tomato-based products, chocolate, and alcoholic and carbonated beverages.

Other healthy lifestyle habits that could help prevent or treat voiding dysfunction include drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy weight.