If you’ve ever wondered how often you should pee on a daily basis, you’re not alone. How often you urinate is actually a very important sign of your overall health, beginning in infancy and continuing throughout your life. Keep reading to learn more about urination and when your pee may signal that you need to visit your doctor.
Normal Bladder Function and Frequency of Urination
Your kidneys filter out wastes and extra water to produce urine. The urine travels down two narrow tubes called ureters and is then stored in a muscular, balloon-like organ called the bladder. The bladder swells when it’s full and gets smaller as it empties. When the bladder empties, urine flows out of the body through the urethra. In women, the urethral opening is located just above the vagina. In men, it’s at the tip of the penis.
As your bladder fills, nerve signals sent to your brain eventually trigger the need to urinate. When you urinate, nerve signals coordinate the relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles and the muscles of the urethra (urinary sphincter muscles). The muscles of the bladder tighten, pushing the urine out.
If all of this happens eight or more times a day (including a few times in the middle of the night), you may have what’s known as a frequency problem. Frequency can be caused by an overactive bladder.
Causes of Frequent Urination
Frequent urination can be a symptom of many different problems from kidney disease to simply drinking too much fluid. When frequent urination is accompanied by fever, an urgent need to urinate, and pain or discomfort in the abdomen, you may have a urinary tract infection. Other possible causes of frequent urination include:
Diabetes . Frequent urination with an abnormally large amount of urine is often an early symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as the body tries to rid itself of unused glucose through the urine.
Prostate problems . An enlarged prostate can press against the urethra (the tube that carries urine out the body) and block the flow of urine. This causes the bladder wall to become irritable. The bladder begins to contract even when it contains small amounts of urine, causing more frequent urination.
Interstitial cystitis . This condition of unknown cause is characterized by pain in the bladder and pelvic region. Often, symptoms include an urgent and/or frequent need to urinate.
Stroke or other neurological diseases. Damage to nerves that supply the bladder can lead to problems with bladder function, including frequent and sudden urges to urinate.
Often, frequent urination is not a symptom of a problem, but is the problem. In people with overactive bladder syndrome, involuntary bladder contractions lead to frequent and often urgent urination, meaning you have to get to a bathroom right now — even if your bladder is not full. It may also lead you to wake up once or more during the night to use the bathroom.
Frequent urination does not require treatment if there is no underlying condition and the frequency is not affecting happiness or quality of life. Pregnant women also do not require treatment, as the symptom should disappear a few weeks after giving birth. Any treatment required will depend on the cause. If a condition such as diabetes or a UTI is responsible for frequent urination, treatment will resolve this symptom. It can also increase urinary flow and reduce the size of the prostate. If treatment is causing a person to pee too often, a doctor can adjust the dosage or prescribe a different medication. It may be helpful to record fluid intake, urinary frequency, urgency, and other symptoms for 3 or more days before an appointment. This can help a doctor when they are diagnosing and determining the best treatment.
Tips for managing urinary frequency
Even after getting treatment, some people find the following strategies helpful:
- Limit the amount of soda, caffeine, and alcohol consumed, or avoid them completely.
- Drink 8 glasses of water daily.
- Pee before and after sexual intercourse, and wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Try probiotic supplements or probiotic-rich foods, including yogurt, kefir, and kimchi. Probiotics can support genital and urinary health.
- Avoid using fragranced products around the genital area.
- Wear loose cotton underwear and loose clothing to prevent infection and irritation.
- Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid placing added pressure on the pelvic muscles and bladder.
Some people also find it helpful to stick to a bathroom schedule. This involves going to the bathroom at scheduled times and gradually increasing the time between visits until there is a regular 3-hour gap.
The outlook for peeing too often or not often enough depends on the underlying cause. Most causes of frequent urination can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes. Anyone concerned about their urinary output should see a doctor as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of complications. Seeking treatment at an early stage may also improve the outlook.