The Diabetic Bladder: Problems Controlling Urination?

High blood sugar can damage nerves in the bladder too.


You may be familiar with the frustration of going to the bathroom and having to push harder than normal to start urinating. Then, when you think you’re finished and have washed your hands, you realize you need to go again.

For many, this is a daily problem that cycles continuously. As diabetics develop nerve damage, it’s not uncommon to have trouble urinating when they go to the bathroom. This condition is called diabetic bladder, also known as diabetic cystopathy.

What Are the Symptoms?

Diabetic bladder usually strikes middle-aged and older people with a trifecta of issues, including decreased bladder sensation, impaired bladder muscles, and increased bladder capacity. While the last issue doesn’t seem so bad, it generally means that the bladder starts holding more urine before the urge to urinate is triggered. This can lead to ‘overflow’ problems and further weakening of the bladder muscles.

If you experience the following problems on a regular basis, you may be dealing with diabetic bladder:

  • It takes longer than normal to feel the urge to go
  • You have trouble relaxing or pushing enough to start urinating
  • You can’t completely empty your bladder
  • You feel the need to go, but your bladder is empty
  • Your bladder is full, but you don’t feel the urge to go at all

Long-Term Issues With Diabetic Bladder

People who have this condition may get to a point where they can’t go at all without outside intervention. This includes having a Foley catheter inserted or self-inserting a catheter every three to four hours. Luckily, bladder training can help restore the ability to urinate over time.

When the bladder muscles become too weak, diabetics develop incontinence and have trouble holding it in until they get to a bathroom.

People who have trouble emptying their bladder completely are more prone to developing bladder infections. Urine that isn’t moved out of the bladder may serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when there is sugar present in the urine.

If you start experiencing problems with bladder control, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor about it. There may be ways to stop the damage by improving your glucose levels. There are also medications that can strengthen or relax the bladder muscles, depending on your needs.


Diabetes and Your Bladder. URL Link. Accessed April 6, 2017.

Bladder Dysfunction in Diabetes Mellitus. URL Link. Accessed April 6, 2017.