Acute Urinary Retention, Female

Acute urinary retention is the temporary inability to urinate. This is an uncommon problem in women. It can be caused by:

  • Infection.

  • A side effect of a medicine.

  • A problem in a nearby organ that presses or squeezes on the bladder or the urethra (the tube that drains the bladder).

  • ExitCare ImagePsychological problems.

  • Surgery on your bladder, urethra, or pelvic organs that causes obstruction to the outflow of urine from your bladder.


If you are sent home with a Foley catheter and a drainage system, you will need to discuss the best course of action with your health care provider. While the catheter is in, maintain a good intake of fluids. Keep the drainage bag emptied and lower than your catheter. This is so that contaminated urine will not flow back into your bladder, which could lead to a urinary tract infection.

There are two main types of drainage bags. One is a large bag that usually is used at night. It has a good capacity that will allow you to sleep through the night without having to empty it. The second type is called a leg bag. It has a smaller capacity so it needs to be emptied more frequently. However, the main advantage is that it can be attached by a leg strap and goes underneath your clothing, allowing you the freedom to move about or leave your home.

Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your health care provider.


  • You develop a low-grade fever.

  • You experience spasms or leakage of urine with the spasms.


  • You develop chills or fever.

  • Your catheter stops draining urine.

  • Your catheter falls out.

  • You start to develop increased bleeding that does not respond to rest and increased fluid intake.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.