I'm making this post to describe a lifelong struggle I've had with doing something completely mundane: urinating.
I turn 36 years old next month, and I'm an otherwise healthy individual. I exercise regularly and work in an office environment that has not given me too much stress.
Growing up, I always seemed to have to go to the bathroom more frequently than my peers. If I went to a movie and bought a large soft drink, I'd have to slip away to the bathroom 3-4 times during the movie whereas my friends did not.
When I was 15 years old in one specific instance, I had the inability to pass my urine. I was on a cross country trip with my family, and we made a pit stop, but I couldn't go. Further down the road, I tried again, but no luck. After several hours and multiple attempts to strain myself, I finally was able to pass my water. After this event, my urinary abilities returned to normal.
When I was 18, I had a sudden intense itching sensation occur in the tip of my penis. I had not yet had any sexual contact at that point in my life, so I knew it wasn't STD related. Two different urologists each diagnosed it as prostatitis. I took bactrim, but that did little to affect it. Through my years in college, I just suffered through the itching as it would come and go over periods of time.
When I entered the working world at age 23, I decided to see a doctor about the itching problem again. I was on a HMO, so I had to go to a primary care physician first. He also diagnosed my problem as prostatitis and prescribed bactrim. This did very little to change anything, so he finally referred me to a urologist. This urologist decided to perform a cystoscopy, and he identified a great deal of inflammation in my bladder around the opening to the urethra and noted that the opening was narrow. However, he didn't know what to make of that so he referred me to another urologist.
At this point, I'm 25 and about to visit my fourth urologist. He performed a cystocopy and made the same observations as did the previous, but he concluded that the inflammation in my urethra opening was the cause of my itching. He concluded that due to my narrow urethral opening (I've seen the term bladder neck too) that my bladder wall muscles were pushing extra hard to pass water and causing the inflammation. He prescribed Flowmax to make the opening relax during urination, and this helped dramatically with the itching.
At this point, still at the age of 25, I had begun consuming alcohol and caffeine regularly. Believe it or not, I didn't drink much of either through my college years. At this time, I began noticing the difficulty to even pass urine, not just having to make frequent trips, but not even able to go at all. Alcohol seemed to accentuate the problem. I would sometimes have to sit down and breathe for several minutes to make myself go. But I was still able to make do and get by only using Flomax when the itching would return. The doctor mentioned bladder neck incision surgery, but said I'm too young for that because it causes retrograde ejaculation.
A couple of years ago, my ability to go started to become much, much harder. I now go even far more frequently, take Flomax, and strain myself. I'm now on my fifth urologist, and my last prostate exam shows that it has grown some, but not enough to cause a problem. He did another cystoscopy, but to my surprise he found no inflammation and no abnormal narrowness of the urethra. He's got me scheduled for a bladder study. He suspects that my urethra muscles won't relax.
I've read about something called Paruresis, where anxiety issues prevent someone from being able to go, and I do notice that I have more difficulty when I'm not alone.
I'm really at a loss of what to do. This is severely affecting my quality of life and my ability to function on a daily basis.
Again, thanks for all this information. I had no idea that caffeine stayed in one's system for so long. I like energy drinks for two reasons: energy taste, but I know there are non-caffeine versions out there. They just aren't as easy to find. Maybe I should look more closely into those.
I'm considering acupuncture too as you suggest.
In my internet searching I also stumbled across something called passion flower. It apparently helps one with anxiety, which seems to be a significant contributer to my problem based on what I've read about Paruresis. Any thoughts on that?
Hopping between urologists over the past 20 years has resulted mostly from moving locations and most recently from one retiring. I had visited him for the past 10 years, and now I'm visiting another one working in the same office.
They haven't told me to give up alcohol, but one did suggest reducing my caffeine intake. Eliminating each has at times made a noticeable difference, but not consistently. There have been some times, mostly up until 2 years ago, that I consumed high quantities of both in the same day and experienced no problems at all. And there have been times that I've consumed almost nothing but water and had problems voiding. For most of my life this problem has seemed to ebb and flow (pardon the pun), but the last two years have become increasingly difficult.
I've taken a break from the Flowmax for the last two weeks, and thus far, I have not noticed any difference. Either there is still some of the drug in my system, or it's not really been having a strong effect.
I've never considered acupuncture, but I'm entertaining the suggestion. I'm also going to look into Tranquil Person and White Embers.
I've also started taking Saw Palmetto. I'm thinking of taking Nettle Root too. Mostly, this is to get ahead on prostate health so that will be less of a factor as I age.
I'd really rather not entirely give up alcohol and caffeine. I like a nice tall energy drink during the work day as well as a cold one during a football game. But it looks like I may have to give them up.