Acute Urinary Retention, Male

ExitCare ImageAcute urinary retention is the temporary inability to urinate.

This is a common problem in older men. As men age their prostates become larger and block the flow of urine from the bladder. This is usually a problem that has come on gradually.


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 can go 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.