Urinary retention is the inability to fully empty your bladder. While urinary retention can affect anyone, older men are more susceptible.

There are two main types of bladder retention:

  • acute urinary retention
  • chronic urinary retention

Acute urinary retention occurs suddenly, lasting only for a short time. This form can be life-threatening, as it prevents people from urinating at all, even if they have a full bladder.

Chronic urinary retention occurs over a long period of time. People diagnosed with this form can urinate but are unable to completely empty their bladder.

Symptoms associated with this condition vary according to which type of urinary retention you’ve been diagnosed with.

Acute urinary retention symptoms include:

Chronic urinary retention symptoms include:

  • abdominal pressure
  • a weak urine stream
  • abdominal pain
  • frequent urination
  • difficulty emptying your bladder completely

Left untreated, urinary retention can cause severe pain, discomfort, and other medical issues. In some cases, this condition can be life-threatening. You may need to seek emergency medical treatment.

A combination of medical and home treatments may ease symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Here are five bladder retention remedies:

Prostate medications

A common cause of urinary retention, specifically in men, is prostate enlargement. For that reason, a popular form of urinary retention treatment is prostate medications such as:

These medications can stop the growth of the prostate, or shrink it, along with relieving urinary retention symptoms. Prostate medications can also relax your bladder muscles to encourage proper flow.

Before incorporating any medication into your treatment plan, consult your options with a doctor. While helpful, some medications can cause harmful side effects that may also worsen your symptoms.

Pain relievers

Bladder retention can also be caused by bladder infections or swelling. As a result, you may experience severe discomfort, pain, and other worsening symptoms.

Pain medications can help relieve uncomfortable cramps or abdominal pain alongside prescribed antibiotics and treatment. Your doctor may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for temporary relief.

Peppermint oil

Essential oils — like peppermint oil — are known for their healing properties and their ability to relieve pain. However, peppermint oil is also being used to treat bladder issues.

In 2018 clinical research, researchers are using peppermint oil to treat postpartum urinary retention in women.

To encourage urination, place a few drops of peppermint oil into the toilet water. The vapor from the oil will contact the perineum to increase urine flow. Don’t apply essential oils directly to the skin without diluting.


Dandelion is a wild herb known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been used historically to treat kidney disease and upset stomach.

Because of its anti-inflammatory abilities, it’s also been used to treat bladder inflammation and retention.

For use, dandelion can be consumed as a tea. You can find this herbal tea in local grocery stores. Drink the tea twice a day for results.

If you begin to experience worsening symptoms, stop using immediately and schedule a visit to your doctor.

Stinging nettle

The stinging nettle plant, also known as Urtica dioica, has been used historically to treat joint pain. However, it’s also been used to relieve symptoms from an enlarged prostate, including urinary retention.

For use, consume the nettle root as a tea three times a day. You can also consume this plant as a pill or through an extract.

If you begin to experience irregular bloating or digestive issues, stop use immediately.

Urinary retention is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition. While there are home remedies available for treatment, doctors recommend traditional treatment options for a more effective outcome.

Herbal and other home remedies are often not monitored by the FDA for quality, purity, and safety. Before pursuing treatment options or incorporating natural remedies into your treatment plan, discuss your options with your doctor.