The most common cause for frequent urination include urinary tract infections. Male frequent urination can be caused by enlargement of the prostate and women who have frequent urination may be pregnant or experiencing menopause. Read on for more information about causes and treatment options.
Frequent urination symptoms
Feeling as though you constantly need to urinate can make life very difficult, especially if the urge to go is strong and simply cannot be ignored. Your activities of daily living are always being interrupted and it's very difficult to take a long car trip, sit in a theater, or even go to work.
Many people are affected by frequent urination symptoms at one time or another and it has many different causes. However, the good news is that abnormally frequent urination can often be successfully treated, or at least managed, with real improvement in your quality of life.
Frequent urination is also called overactive bladder (OAB), urgent urination, or polyuria.
Common characteristics of frequent urination symptoms
If you're experiencing frequent urination, it can likely be described by:
- Having to urinate every two to three hours: Or even more often, including at night while trying to sleep (nocturia). The average person can sleep for six to eight hours, or more, without having to get up to urinate.
- Occasional incontinence: This is the uncontrollable leakage of urine.
- Sometimes finding it difficult to empty your bladder
- Pelvic pain and pressure
Who is most often affected by frequent urination symptoms
The following individuals are more likely to experience frequent urination.
- Pregnant women: Frequent urination is almost universal in pregnant women.
- Women and UTIs: Women are more prone to urinary tract infections than men are, and these infections cause more frequent urination.
- Men over the age of about 50: Men is this age group are often affected due to an enlarged prostate gland.
Is frequent urination serious?
The severity of frequent urination ultimately depends on the cause.
- Not serious: In some cases, it is just a matter of adjusting your medications or the amount of liquids that you drink.
- Serious: In other cases, though, quality of life can be seriously affected.
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Frequent urination causes and conditions
Most common frequent urination causes
The most common causes of frequent urination include the following.
- Bacterial infections of your urinary tract: Infection causes inflammation and swelling, which irritates your bladder and causes it to contract more frequently.
- Pregnancy: As the baby grows, the uterus must enlarge, and it often presses on the bladder. This leaves less room within the bladder for urine and so it must empty itself more frequently.
- Enlargement of the prostate in men: Especially older men, the enlarged gland can push against the bladder and block the flow of urine. This causes the irritated bladder to contract more frequently and vigorously in an effort to empty itself.
Less common frequent urination causes
Less common causes of frequent urination include the following.
- Diuretics: These are foods or medications that tend to remove excess fluid from your body. Diuretic medications are frequently prescribed for high blood pressure. Caffeine has a diuretic effect in some individuals as well as excess alcohol.
- Diabetes: Either type 1 or type 2. An early symptom of diabetes is increased thirst and more frequent urination. Getting the diabetes under control will control both symptoms.
- Bladder stones: These are crystallized mineral deposits that may create inflammation and blockage, making it difficult for the bladder to empty itself and resulting in frequent attempts at urination.
- Vaginitis: This is inflammation of the vagina, which causes irritation, swelling, discharge, and more frequent urination symptoms.
- Anxiety: Nervous anticipation over an upcoming event can cause the urge to urinate. This is part of the body's fight-or-flight mode preparing you for action should it be needed, including having an empty bladder.
Rare and unusual causes
There are rare and unusual causes of frequent urination, such as the following.
- Chronic inflammation of your bladder
- Tumors in your bladder, urinary tract, or pelvis
- Stroke or spinal cord injury: One of the effects can be damage to the nerves of your bladder, resulting in increased frequency of urination and less control.
- Dementia: This can cause lessening of control over many body functions.
9 possible frequent urination conditions
A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Urinary tract infections are usually caused by infections by fecal bacteria.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections include pain with urination (dysuria), ...
Symptoms of menopause
Menopause is the name for the natural process by which the menstrual cycle (period) stops happening in a woman. Usually, the process is gradual (takes months or years) and occurs from the age of 45 to 55 years. Menopause is officially diagnosed once a woman stops having a period for 12 months continuously. A woman with menopause will notice a decrease in the number and regularity of her periods until they completely stop. In addition, she may notice a number of symptoms that occur as a result of decreased estrogen levels, such as hot flashes, changes in mood, sleep problems, vaginal dryness, changes in libido, and changes in sexual function. Certain medications exist that can decrease these symptoms.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, delay in or irregular periods, vaginal discharge, anxiety, trouble sleeping
Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause: delay in or irregular periods
Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis)
Painful bladder syndrome, also called interstitial cystitis or IC, is a chronic condition of pain and discomfort in the urinary system.
The cause is unknown. It may be an autoimmune disorder and is often found with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, or vulvodynia (pain in the outer female organs.) Some researchers feel the condition may be linked to a history of abuse.
Painful bladder syndrome is more common in women than in men, but can happen to anyone.
Symptoms vary and may include pressure and discomfort in the lower abdomen; pain during sexual intercourse; bladder pain; and a frequent urge to urinate.
A medical provider should be seen for these symptoms, because painful bladder syndrome can interfere with quality of life and lead to depression.
Diagnosis is made through patient history; physical examination; blood and urine tests; and sometimes cystoscopy. Women may have a pelvic examination and men may have a digital rectal examination.
There is no cure specifically for painful bladder syndrome, so treatment involves addressing the symptoms and making lifestyle changes.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), depressed mood, pelvis pain, arthralgias or myalgias
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Yeast infections are due to alterations in the balance of microscopic organisms in the vulvar and vaginal regions. The term "yeast infection" is most commonly used to describe symptoms caused by the fungus Candida albicans.
Symptoms include itching of the vaginal and vulva, burning, redness...
The bladder is a hollow organ with a muscular wall that stores urine until it is passed from the body. Bladder cancer refers to the out of control growth of cells within the lining of the urinary bladder. It is the sixth most common cancer among adults in the U.S.
Initial symptoms include bloo..
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (bph)
The prostate is a gland in men that helps produce semen, the fluid that contains sperm. Over many years, the cells of this gland have a tendency to become enlarged (or hypertrophy). Fortunately, this enlargement is not itself dangerous. As the name “benign” implies, BPH is not prostate cancer and does not increase the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, BPH is rarely harmful, usually more of an inconvenience than anything else.
The problems it does cause result from compression of the urethra, which passes through the prostate as it carries urine out of the body. An enlarged prostate can obstruct the flow of urine making it difficult to empty the bladder, which in turn leads to frequent urination and nighttime awakening to urinate.
BPH is a chronic, progressive disease, meaning that the symptoms are mild at first and slowly get worse over many years. Serious complications can occur when there is significant obstruction of the urinary tract, though this is relatively uncommon.
Top Symptoms: sudden urgency to urinate, waking up regularly to pee at night, frequent urination, constant but weak urination stream, feeling of not getting everything out when urinating
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Hemochromatosis is a condition where there is too much iron in the body. Most commonly, this occurs due to faulty genes (usually the HFE gene) in iron regulation. When the disease is due to genetic reasons, it is called Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH). HH is a lifelong (chronic) disease, whi...
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is also known as adult-onset diabetes, because it is the result of lifestyle and is not hereditary. Diabetes of any type is the condition where the body does not produce enough insulin to process the sugars in food.
Risk factors include obesity, overeating high-carbohydrate foods, lack of exercise, pregnancy, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS.)
Early symptoms include increased thirst; frequent urination; weight loss despite increased appetite; blurred vision; infections that are slow to heal; and blood sugar somewhat higher than normal.
It is important to get treatment at the first sign of these symptoms, because the high blood sugar levels can cause serious organ damage. Heart disease, neuropathy, kidney damage, and blindness can all result from untreated diabetes.
Diagnosis is made through a series of blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be managed through lifestyle changes. A diet which eliminates refined carbohydrates and controls calories; regular exercise; regular blood sugar monitoring; and sometimes insulin or other medications will all be recommended.
Top Symptoms: fatigue, increased appetite compared to normal, vision changes, feeling itchy or tingling all over, excesive thirst
Urgency: Primary care doctor
The thyroid is a small, bow-tie shaped gland in your neck. Its main job is to produce thyroid hormone (known as T3 or T4), which serves a wide array of functions throughout the body.
When too much thyroid hormone is released, the body’s metabolism gets ramped up, causing symptoms ..
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Frequent urination treatments and relief
The following remedies can be tried at home to combat your frequent urination.
- Drink somewhat less fluid: As long as you don't become dehydrated, try taking smaller sips at a time or staggering your fluid intake.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: These can have a diuretic effect.
- To minimize nocturia: You should reduce your late-night intake of fluids.
When to see a doctor
You should schedule an appointment to see your doctor if your frequent urination worsens or persists, or if you experience the following.
- Frequent urination that has no apparent cause
- It is interfering with your work, sleep, or overall quality of life
- Loss of bladder control (incontinence)
- Suddenly finding it difficult to urinate at all
When it is an emergency
FAQs about frequent urination
Can frequent urination be an early sign of pregnancy?
Frequent urination can be a sign of early pregnancy. As your hormones adjust to a new pregnancy in the first trimester, you may urinate more frequently. The specific hormone is called human chorionic growth hormone, or hCG for short. The frequency tends to improve temporarily in the second trimester.
Will anxiety cause frequent urination?
Anxiety usually does not cause frequent urination. Overactive bladder, or a bladder that tends to give little notice before developing an urge to urinate can cause anxiety in some people, but it is uncommon to develop an overactive bladder following frequent urination.
Can UTIs lead to frequent urination?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to frequent urination as infection and irritation of the bladder can lead to feelings of fullness. Other signs of a UTI include a change in color of urine or smell of urine. A foul smell of urine is a frequent sign of infection. An increase in the amount of bubble in the urine can also be a sign of a UTI as well as cloudy urine.
Which STDs cause frequent urination?
Any bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI and previously STD) can cause frequent urination . This means that viruses like the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not cause frequent urination. Diseases like trichomonas, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can and often do cause frequent urination or discomfort during urination.
Are frequent urination and ovulation linked?
While there are some reports of a linkage between ovulation and urination, and, theoretically, the hormones that cause ovulation can increase the frequency of urination, there are no reliable studies linking ovulation and frequency of urination. It is, however, a measure used to predict ovulation by many women. If you are monitoring your ovulation, either to get pregnant or prevent pregnancy, seek the counseling of a medical professional.
Questions your doctor may ask about frequent urination
- Do you feel pain when you urinate?
- Are you sexually active?
- Any fever today or during the last week?
- Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.
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- Urinary Tract Infection. American Academy of Family Physicians: Familydoctor.org. Familydoctor.org Link
- Prostate Enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. NIDDK Link
- Shah AP. Urination, Excessive or Frequent. Merck Manual Consumer Version. Updated Sept. 2017. Merck Manuals Consumer Version Link
- Diagnosis of Vaginitis. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Sep 1;62(5):1095-1104. AAFP Link
- Toilet problems and continence. Alzheimer's Society. Alzheimer's Society Link
- STD Symptoms. Texas Department of State Health Services: Know My Status. Updated Sept. 12, 2018. Know My Status Link