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I have a weird problem with peeing - Can someone help me figure out what it may be?

I've had a weird problem with peeing for about 6 years now. I'm currently 17 years old, turn 18 in August, and I'm female. I only mention this because my problem seems to be viewed by medical professionals as something that only happens with old men. Also, if it helps, I have no medical history of illnesses and such besides the common flu, nobody in my family has this problem that I know of, and I’m slightly overweight, even though this all started before I gained the extra pounds.

I have troubles with fully emptying my bladder. At first I didn't know quite what it was, I just distinctly remember one day feeling a sharp pain in my (for a lack of a better term) general genital area - I couldn't pinpoint where, after I had finished peeing. At the time I was very confused, but when it continued to happen over the next (now 6) years of my life, I obviously started understanding the issue more.

The pain I experience after I pee, I am almost certain it's caused by me not being able to fully empty my bladder. I think this because the pain always disappears when I'm able to get everything out, but will hurt until I do so. This doesn't happen every single time I pee, but it happens a lot. Just to clear this up now, because people always try to tell me this is the case, it's NOT caused by a bladder / urinary infection. I've had bladder infections both before and after this problem started, and there is a clear difference. When I have a bladder infection I have all the typical symptoms, like red pee, pain, etc. This isn't the case in my day-to-day life, and I don't think it's possible to have a bladder infection for 6 years, either.

However, the pain I experience when I'm unable to fully pee, is VERY similar to that of having a bladder infection. It stings/aches, I feel shooting pains up my bladder sometimes, (or that's what it feels like to me, obviously I'm not 100% certain what it is) and just generally makes life a pain. I did have a bladder infection about a year ago, and it was the first I’ve had in a long time, and I was shocked to see how similar the pain is. It's the best way to describe the almost day-to-day pain i experience.

That is, unless I can “force” the pee out with warm water. This sounds very strange, and I’ve tried to explain this to medical professionals before, but they don’t seem to understand the issue, nor my “solution.” Maybe about 4-5 years ago, I discovered that if I take some toilet paper under a warm stream of water from the sink, and press it over my urethra, I'm somehow able to push out more pee. This doesn’t usually work immediately however, I often have to do this MANY times to not feel any pain anymore, and when I have painful days, I usually have to use about 45 minutes to pee on average. I don’t know what first triggered me to try this method, but I think it was a desperate attempt from me to soothe the pain with warmth. I also don’t know why this method is able to help me.

Even though I have found this “solution,” it doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem. I’m a teenager, about to enter adulthood, and this issue has held me back a lot in my life. I’m terrified of going to public restrooms, as I know that there will be no sink inside the booth, and I will likely have a very painful day if I try to use the restroom and my bladder doesn’t feel like cooperating. I also don’t like holding it for a long amount of time, because for some reason, it seems to “leak” throughout the day. I never notice that I’m peeing / leaking, it’s not one of those moments where you’ve been desperate to pee for long and you feel some come out. It just happens somehow while I go about my day, and I only notice when I come home and see wet underwear and smell urine as I take go to pee. I will then usually have to use my warm water method. I feel absolutely disgusting, and don’t know what to do to fix this. It’s so embarrassing to basically pee yourself without even knowing it when you’re almost 18, and the alternative is to walk around with extreme pains.
I’ve also on multiple occasions come late to school because I had a really bad pee day and couldn’t leave the toilet for an hour.

I feel like my bladder is in charge of my life, when I should be in charge of it. I’ve tried to talk to medical professionals. At one point we took an ultrasound of my bladder before and after peeing, but that day I didn’t have any problems (as I said, it doesn’t strike every day,) and everything looked normal on the screen. He, and my family doctor who sent me to him, didn’t seem to understand my problem fully when I tried to explain, and either told me that it was a bladder infection (it’s not) or that it’s a phase that probably will go over soon. He said I should just go for about 4-6 hours between peeing, and really get desperate before I had to go, and that it’d probably help because it was such a big release / flow. I tried doing this, but again, when I hold for a long time I leak throughout the day and it got very uncomfortable. It didn’t feel like proper medical advice either.

Some years later, I went to a urologist and conducted a series of tests, including writing down every time I pee, measuring said pee, having me pee on some sort of weighted chair (don’t know the name of the device, sorry,) and insert a catheter after to see how much urine remained. She also didn’t seem to fully understand the issue, even when I explained every part of it in excruciating detail. That’s why I’m being so detailed here – I need to find some answers.

I asked if maybe my urethra was too tight, as I’d seen somewhere online that it could cause problems fully relieving yourself. She said everything looked fine physically, and that it probably was a mental problem. She suggested that I should try some sort of “pee routine” to try and take control over my bladder. However, I severely doubt that it’s a mental issue. She, like all of the multiple medical professionals I've visited, didn’t fully listen to my issue because I wasn’t an old man and that only they typically have problems with not being able to pee, not young girls like myself. This can be why it's treated as a mental thing.

The pain has been very, very real, and has been present for 6 years. It came out of the blue, and has stuck with me ever since. I have under multiple occasions given myself a headache because I was trying to push my pee out so hard. I understand how my warm water method could sound like placebo (and honestly, it might be, but I don’t know,) but seeing as the problem was present 1-2 years before I figured it out and was still very painful, I don’t think that placebo is what caused this issue.

Needless to say, I’m at a loss. This problem is a big hinderance in my life as I’m scared to go hang out with friends when I know there’s not going to be a toilet with a close sink readily available, and has affected my school life, etc. I feel very disgusted with my own body, and that insecurity is really doing a toll on me, only adding to the physical pain.

Does anyone know what this could be? What it could come from? Has anyone experienced something similar? I really feel like I’m not being taken seriously by medical professionals, as my problems have been shrugged off for 6 years, and been labelled as a mental block / problem. I started to doubt my own symptoms – “Maybe it really is mental? Maybe I’m imagining the pain?” – But when I tried to stop using the warm water, tried to relax and “take control over my bladder” as my urologist told me, the pain still continued. I know that there’s no way this isn’t real. However, I really need some outside perspective on this. Obviously, nobody could know without examining me, but I’m really just desperate to see what other people find of this. I have in some ways accepted that I’ll never be able to live normally, but I still want to try to fix this if I can.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
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Avatar universal
Wow - this must be extremely frustrating for you. I'm quite sure from your description that you do have a physical problem, not Psychological, and it must be aggravating to have doctors tell you there's nothing wrong or that it might be all in your head. Among the tests you've had done, did they do Urodynamic testing? They can measure how quickly you urinate & the total vol (for example, 5 cc/sec) & also the total volume remaining in the bladder after you 'finish'? There's another test where they insert a catheter, drain the bladder completely, then slowly introduce warm sterile water into the bladder & ask you at what point you start to feel the need to urinate. They can also measure the pressure inside the bladder. But if you've already had these tests & they didn't find anything, that would be a real puzzler.

You may have to continue to do a lot of research on this yourself & possibly find someone who specializes in these kinds of problems. It might be worthwhile visiting some specialty clinic for this, even if you have to travel out of town. Since you are pretty young, I doubt this will get better over time. I wish I could be of more help, but maybe another reader here or a medical professional could chime in & share opinions and experiences. I wish you the best in trying to get to the bottom of it. Stay strong & don't let anyone convince you this i just in your head...

Helpful - 0
Thank you for your encouragement! I have very few people to talk to about this in real life, so having someone sympathise with me feels really good. We did do the test that measures speed + volume, and inserted a catheter after to remove any residual urine, trying to see if there was too much left in my bladder. We didn’t find any problem – Even though my urologist said I had a shy stream, this was only because I was nervous about the situation. I didn’t know we were doing the catheter before the appointment, and wasn’t mentally prepared to have someone looking at my privates, listen to me pee, or insert anything, etc. I remember having to try for a long time to relax enough to actually relieve myself. Again, she found nothing out of the ordinary.

I have not tried the tests where they introduce the warm water, nor measuring the pressure in my bladder. I’ll have to look into getting those done. I’ll try to do as you advice – conducting more research, and visiting different doctors / urologist / clinics. This will probably have to take place over a longer period of time, however, as my previous appointments have cost me up to approx. 40 USD, which is a lot of money when you live in a country with (usually, I guess,) free healthcare, and don’t have a stable income.
Sorry to hear of your troubles - I wish you well in this journey to find a solution. Please check back in here from tine to time, let us know how you’re doing & if you do find a solution. Hopefully we can all learn something from this...
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