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What should I do if I have trouble urinating after abdominal surgery?

Urination trouble after abdominal surgery is quite common because of the anesthesia used during surgery.

After surgery, you might have trouble urinating. This might be due to your surgery. But it may also come from pain medication, discomfort, or anxiety. Here’s what to do:

  • Don’t strain or bear down while going to the bathroom. This can damage the area of your recent surgery.
  • Urinate while sitting in a few inches of warm water. Remember to avoid getting your incision wet if it hasn’t healed yet.
  • Don’t let your bladder get too full. Believe it or not, it’s easier if you urinate more often.
  • Do kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles around your vagina, bowel, and bladder. To start, tighten the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine. Hold for a count of ten, then relax the muscles slowly. Repeat several times a day, working up to 100 kegels a day.

If you can’t urinate on your own before you leave the hospital, you may need to go home with a urinary catheter (a small tube to drain urine from the bladder). Until you can urinate on your own, follow these instructions:

  1. If you go home with a catheter in place, follow the nurse’s instructions for caring for the catheter and drainage bag. Do any exercises you’ve been taught. And make sure you know when and how the catheter will be removed.
  2. If you need to self-catheterize, a nurse will teach you how before you leave the hospital. Be sure to self-catheterize as often as your nurse has told you to -- usually every 3 to 4 hours during the day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.