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Is It Bad That I Can’t Pee in a Steady Stream?

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The same thing can happen when you hover your butt over a toilet seat, she adds. That squat posture often involves flexing—you guessed it—your pelvic floor muscles, which can make it tough to get a good flow going.

3. You’re taking a decongestant.

Were you today years old when you learned that oral decongestants can cause your urethra (the tube you pee from) to contract? Because, same. More specifically, the drug pseudoephedrine (which is the active ingredient in Sudafed and included in allergy medications with a “D” in their name, like Zyrtec-D and Claritin-D) can “cause an increased sphincter tone,” Julie Drolet, MD, a board-certified urogynecologist in New York City, tells SELF. Meaning if you take a high dose of pseudoephedrine or pop it consistently (say, during flu season or when your allergies act up), the muscle that lets urine move into your urethra can become more active, making it tougher to empty your bladder or to do so in one fell swoop.

4. You have a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Having a UTI can be miserable for a lot of reasons—you might as well be peeing flames, and the pain in your pelvis can be tough to endure. But it can also really mess with your stream.

“You might have the sensation that you need to use the bathroom very frequently, but there’s only a little urine that wants to come out,” Dr. Drolet says. The infection can cause both swelling and irritation of the urethra and bladder weakness (making it less capable of pushing out urine), all of which can lead to inconsistent dribs and drips.

5. Something’s up with your bladder.

A variety of bladder issues could interfere with your usual rush. It’s possible that your bladder “has become a little floppy and isn’t pushing the way it’s supposed to,” Dr. Greenleaf says, which can often happen with years of holding in pee for hours on end. (This tends to affect workers who can’t just leave in the middle of their shift, like teachers and nurses.) “If you stretch out the bladder too much, it becomes harder for the bladder to contract.”

Another possibility is prolapse, which is when the bladder drops within the pelvis due to a weakened pelvic floor (often caused by pregnancy or childbirth). In this lower position, it can press on the urethra or otherwise cause it to become kinked, which can block the typical flow of urine, Dr. Drolet says. A similar thing can happen with an enlarged prostate in people with a penis or a colon that’s especially blocked up (meaning, full of poop); both nearby organs can push against the urethra, partially cutting off pee’s ability to pass.

There’s also always the small chance that something inside your bladder is interfering with your pee stream, like a bladder stone (a clump of mineral build-up) or a benign or cancerous growth, Dr. Greenleaf says, but these would typically show up with other symptoms too (more on that below).

6. You have some form of nerve damage.

Again, the process of peeing hinges on nerve signals firing between your pelvis and brain. That means if anything is blocking those channels, you might experience pee that stops and starts. “It could be either the nerves in your pelvis are affected, or the nerves anywhere along your spinal cord—which runs from your tailbone to your brain—are compressed,” Dr. Greenleaf says. (So anything from a herniated disc in your lower back to a neck injury could affect your bladder function.)

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