If you’ve ever had a stent, you know just how distressing it can be! Between tackling pain and worrying about when you can resume your daily activities, what can you do to address these concerns? Dr. Marshall L. Stoller, who has over 35 years of experience in urology, shares his best tips on how to relieve stent pain.
It can be really uncomfortable to pee with a stent. What are some things we can do to ease the pain?
The most common complaint I get is about the distal curl – the curl in the bladder that causes irritation. To minimize that, I recommend leaving a quarter cup or half cup of urine in your bladder when you pee, instead of emptying it fully. It prevents the walls of the bladder from rubbing against the stent, which helps with decreasing the urinary frequency and urgency.
It may also seem scary to pee with a double-J stent, but as long as you are aware of where that pain may be from, there shouldn’t be much cause for worry. Basically, when the bladder contracts, some of the urine may reflux back up to your kidney, causing some pain. If the pain is severe, stop urinating, and the pain should go away after you finish peeing. After peeing, you may find the need to go again as some of the urine that was refluxed comes back down to the bladder. But again, avoid emptying your bladder completely.
Many patients are unsure about what they can or cannot do for their first two weeks, with a stent. What are some realistic expectations we should have?
You may go about your normal activities! Whatever feels good, it’s okay to do it. There is no absolute indication of what you can or cannot do with a stent. Activities such as swimming, taking a bath, running, or riding a bike shouldn’t cause any pain. It’s also safe to fly or go on a trip. There is no absolute indication of what you can or cannot do.
However, if you are doing major activities, it may cause the stent to rub against the walls of the ureter, and they may notice some blood in the urine. That is nothing to be alarmed about, just drink more fluids and stop that activity. But if you have a stent with a string, I would avoid doing any strenuous activities where it can accidentally get dislodged.
What about sex – is that okay or something to avoid?
Having sexual activity with a stent is no big deal unless you have a stent with a string. Obviously, having sexual intercourse or any kind of sexual activity could potentially cause it to get pulled and dislodged. So, I would hold off there.
If there is no string, you can do whatever feels comfortable with your partner.
Stent pain can make it tough to get Getting a good night’s sleep can be tough, with all that stent discomfort. Any tips?
The most sensitive part of the bladder is the trigone. Oftentimes, if you sleep on your back and the stent sits on your trigone, it can worsen symptoms. To relieve any pain, try lying on your stomach or on the other side of the stent. For example, if you have a right-side stent, lie on your left side. You will need to experiment and figure out which works best. You can try that during the day by– lying on the couch on your stomach, rather than on your back, and see if that helps with your symptoms.
When it comes to (finally!) removing stents at home, it can be pretty scary. How should we approach that?
If you’re planning to remove your stent with a string, go into the shower, because there will be a little leakage of some fluid once it’s removed. Gently pull the string out – slowly! It should come out easily, just make sure that it is all intact. As long as you follow the instructions from your doctor closely, you won’t hurt yourself.
If you feel uncomfortable doing it on your own, you could have your partner help you, or go back to your physician – they’ll be happy to help!
Dr. Marshall L. Stoller is the Head of University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) urinary stone division, which includes endourology and laparoscopy. He has helped spearhead a comprehensive program in the management of urinary stone disease at UCSF and is also certified by the American Board of Urology.