What is urinary dribbling?
Urinary dribbling is the symptom of small amounts of urine dribbling from the penis immediately after urination (post-micturation dribble, post-void dribbling or dribbling incontinence). These are the few drops that seem to come out after you’ve stopped the flow of urine, and cause the wet spots in your underwear or pants. Doctors say that a few drops of urine are normal, but Chinese medicine says otherwise. As a colleague of mine says, unless you’re playing basketball, you don’t want to be dribbling. (He’s a fellow dad, so corny jokes are allowed.)
All jokes aside, post-void dribble is often easily remedied. There’s one instance that every man should keep in mind: Do you experience dribbling after urinating over the elastic waistband of your pants or underwear instead of through your fly? This shortcut (instead of entirely removing your penis from your clothing) can constrict or otherwise block the urethra, which causes the urine to get stuck along the way. When the constriction is removed, the urine dribbles out. This is obviously the easiest kind of dribbling to “treat.” Expectedly, this cause is not very common, but I always ask about this first when I see men in clinic for urinary dribbling.
It is important to speak to your doctor when you find that your post-void dribbling is turning into urinary incontinence, which is going to be more than just a few drops of urine lost.
What are the symptoms of urinary dribbling
The symptom of urinary dribbling is a few drops of urine coming out of your penis after you’ve finished urinating, or otherwise deliberately stopped the flow of urine.
What causes urinary dribbling?
As I mentioned above, dribbling incontinence can be caused by some kind of incomplete blockage in the urethra causing some urine to be retained outside of the bladder but not fully expelled. This often happens at the bulbus urethra at the base of the penis because this is the widest part of the urethra.
Other causes may include:
- A loss of control of the bladder muscles
- Loss of firmness in the muscles of the pelvic floor
- The normal course of aging
- Some diseases, like diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s and MS
- Overactive bladder
- Neurological issues
Prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate gland, can cause the secretion of a clear liquid that could be confused with post-void dribble. It is important to have your prostate checked if there is any burning or discomfort associated with dribbling. While prostatitis can affect men of any age, younger men are generally at higher risk. So if you’re young and experiencing urinary dribbling, better see your doctor sooner rather than later. If you do have prostatitis, acupuncture can still help. I treat prostatitis in the clinic. Read more here.
How is urinary dribbling diagnosed by my doctor?
Your doctor will do a few things to diagnose you with urinary dribbling:
- Medical history
- Physical exam
- Voiding diary
How does my acupuncturist diagnose urinary dribbling?
An acupuncturist will base their findings on self-reported urinary dribbling. That is to say, if you say you’re experiencing dribbling, I’ll believe you. Since dribbling is usually only a few drops of urine (versus incontinence, which has a greater quantity of urine lost), I find voiding diaries to be unnecessary. You should always have routine physical exams by your doctor, including having your prostate checked. I do not perform these exams in my clinic. In addition to the medical interview, acupuncture and Chinese medicine use pulse taking, tongue diagnosis, and abdominal palpation as diagnostic methods.
How will my doctor treat urinary dribbling?
Doctors will usually suggest limiting fluid intake, kegel exercises certain medications and even surgery in some cases.
How is acupuncture used to treat urinary dribbling?
Acupuncture treats post-void dribble by astringing the urine, firming the bladder Qi, coursing the Liver and strengthening the Kidneys. How’s that for acupuncture jargon?
It’s not really as simple as that. Acupuncturists use what we call Pattern Diagnosis to guide treatments. That means that we piece together all the elements of your medical interview with lifestyle factors, general health information, diet, and pulse, tongue and abdominal diagnosis to assign a pattern of disharmony. Once the pattern is established – and it can change week to week or month to month – I make a treatment plan. This will tell me what herbs to use and which acupuncture points to select. It’s always important to make sure treatment matches the pattern or symptoms won’t improve.