Frequent urination is a symptom of many conditions and it can lead to sleep deprivation and affect your ability to work, exercise or perform daily functions. For people dealing with nocturia, or frequent urination in middle of the night, this issue can affect their quality of life, leading to fatigue, mood changes, appetite changes and brain fog.
Usually, by dealing with the underlying condition that’s causing frequent urination, you can manage and improve this very inconvenient symptom. Knowing the potential causes of frequent urination can help you to determine what exactly is causing the issue, so you can consult with your healthcare provider about a treatment plan.
There are also natural treatments for frequent urination that will help you to build pelvic muscle strength, avoid food triggers and re-train your bladder to use the bathroom less frequently.
What Is Frequent Urination?
Frequent urination is the need to urinate more often than usual. There are two terms that are used to describe frequent urination: “polyuria” refers to an increased volume of urine and “urinary frequency” refers to the passing of a normal amount of urine, but the need to go more often.
Frequent urination is usually accompanied by a sensation of what’s called urinary urgency, which is caused by involuntary contractions of the bladder muscle. Some people experience this feeling overnight, which is called nocturia.
Urine is composed of wastes and extra fluid, and it’s removed from the body through the urinary tract. You may not think about all of the body parts that allow you to urinate several times a day, but it actually requires all parts of the urinary tract to work together and function properly.
The kidneys work around the clock to filter your blood and produce urine. Then the ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and the bladder stores urine until it becomes full and you feel the urge to urinate. At the bottom of the bladder is the urethra, which is made up of muscles that keep urine in the bladder and then allow it to exit it the body. But before you can urine, the brain has to send signals to the muscular bladder wall so that it will tighten and the sphincters that surround the urethra so that urine can exit the body. (1)
Clearly, urinating isn’t as simple as it seems, and when we deal with issues of the urinary tract, like frequent urination, it’s usually because of an underlying condition that’s affecting one of these body parts. There are many health conditions that may cause frequent urination, especially diseases that affect your urinary tract.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s usually pretty easy to tell when you are dealing with frequent urination. If you are peeing more than 4–8 times a day, and you aren’t pregnant, you may be dealing with an underlying condition that’s causing this symptom. Frequent urination has also been defined as urinating every one to two hours, or urinating more than once in middle of the night. (2)
Frequent urination can affect people of every age, but it’s more prevalent among middle-age and older adults, and in women who are pregnant.
For some people, frequent urination occurs with other urinary symptoms, including painful urination, an urgent need to urinate and blood in the urine. Some people may also experience urinary incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine.
Frequent Urination Causes and Risk Factors
1. Bladder conditions
One major cause of frequent urination is a condition that’s affecting your bladder in some way. This can be an infection or injury of the bladder, or it can be muscle, nerve or tissue changes that are affecting your bladder function. Some specific conditions that involve the bladder and may be causing frequent urination include: (3)
- Bladder stones — a buildup of minerals that form in the urinary bladder and occurs more frequently in men.
- Overactive bladder — a condition that doesn’t allow the bladder to hold urine properly, which results in problems like urine incontinence and leaky urine. (4)
- Interstitial cystitis — also called painful bladder syndrome, this is a chronic condition that causes bladder pain and pressure, resulting in frequent urination.
2. Prostate conditions
The prostate is a gland that’s located in the male reproductive system, just below the bladder. Frequent urination is one of the warning signs that you may have an issue with your prostate health, such as: (5)
- Enlarged prostate (or BPH) — when the prostate becomes enlarged and pushes against the bladder and urinary tract.
- Prostatitis — an infectious disease that involves the prostate gland and can cause symptoms like frequent urination, fever, nausea, vomiting, pain during urination and an urgent feed to urinate.
3. Kidney conditions
Changes in kidney function or kidney disease can cause frequent urination and other symptoms like kidney pain (right below your rib cage or in your back/abdomen), fluid retention and swelling, indigestion and high blood pressure.
- Kidney stones — the most common disorder of the urinary tract, kidney stones can cause frequent urination, pain along the kidneys, lower back pain and discoloration of urine.
4. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
With both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the body tries to get rid of unused glucose through your urine, causing frequent urination and a large amount of urine. Besides frequent urination, some other common diabetes symptoms include weight changes, a numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, frequent infections and dry skin. (6)
- Diabetes insipidus: Diabetes insipidus is a condition that causes excessive thirst and the passing of large amounts of urine (polyuria). It’s caused by inadequate vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone secretion.
5. Urinary tract infections
A urinary tract infection is caused by bacteria that enter the urinary tract and cause UTI symptoms like frequent urination, pain when urinating and a burning sensation in the bladder. Although you may have the urge to urinate frequently with a UTI, you may only pass small amounts of urine at a time. You may also notice cloudy urine or strong smelling urine. (7)
6. Sexually transmitted diseases
STDs are on the rise and because many of them affect your urinary system, they can cause frequent urination. Chlamydia and gonorrhea in particular can cause urinary symptoms including frequent urination, painful urination, discharge and swelling at the opening of the urethra.
During pregnancy, the growing uterus puts pressure on the mother’s bladder, causing the need for frequent trips to the bathroom.
Because a stroke can damage nerves in your bladder, it may cause frequent urination.
9. Certain medications
The following medications or treatments may lead to frequent urination:
- Diuretics — used to flush excess fluid from the body or to treat high blood pressure.
- Muscle relaxants and sedatives — these types of medications can relax your bladder and urethra, leading to frequent urination.
- Radiation therapy — radiation to the pelvic area may cause issues with urination.
10. Excess consumption of fluids
Drinking too many fluids close to bedtime can lead to nocturia, or frequent urination overnight. Fluids include water, alcohol, coffee, tea, soda and other carbonated beverages.
11. Nervous tension
Sometimes, frequent urination can be caused by nervous tension or a psychiatric issue. This usually involves a person urinating more often only a few hours at a time, when stress or anxiety levels are high. (8)
Before you can be treated for frequent urination, your doctor will have to determine what’s causing the issue. He or she will perform some tests and do a physical examination to determine the underlying cause of your frequent urination. You’ll also have to give a urine sample to check for infections or abnormalities. Further testing may be required if your doctor thinks that the issue is related to a problem with your bladder or urinary tract.
Once the underlying cause of your frequent urination is determined, your doctor or healthcare provider will recommend a treatment plan. This may involve antibiotics if you have a bacterial infection or an anticholinergic, which is used to improve the symptoms of overactive bladder. If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’ll have to make dietary and lifestyle changes and formulate a treatment plan with your doctor.
6 Natural Treatments for Frequent Urination
1. Pelvic Floor Training
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are usually one of the first lines of treatment for urinary issues like incontinence, overactive bladder and frequent urination. These exercises help to improve the strength, coordination and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor training is a type of exercise that involves muscle clenching. (9, 10)
One type of pelvic floor training is kegel exercises, which help to strengthen the muscles that wrap around your urethra. When you clench these muscles by contracting them and then relaxing them, they are becoming stronger and you can better control the act of urinating. For people dealing with frequent urination, kegels can help to support your bladder.
2. Bladder Training
Did you know that you can train your bladder? Some people are teaching their bladders some pretty bad habits and they don’t even know it. For instance, some people dealing with frequent urination may be training their bladder to empty more often, before it is actually full. So you are getting the urge to urinate, even though you don’t really have to just yet.
But with bladder training, you can work on setting a new urinating schedule. Here’s how bladder training works: start by recording the times you urinate in a journal for 1–2 days. You need to figure out about how much hours you wait between bathroom breaks. Then you’ll choose an interval for training. For example, if you urinate every 2 hours and you choose the starting interval of 10 minutes, then you’ll work on urinating every 2 hours and 10 minutes as part of your training.
Do your best to wait the set amount of time before you urinate again, and if you find that you don’t have to urinate when you’ve hit your interval, do it anyway. If you get the urge to urinate before it’s time, try some distraction techniques like taking deep breaths, relaxing your body and sitting in a chair and leaning down, which should relieve some pressure.
3. Watch Your Fluid Intake
It’s important to watch your fluid intake because you need to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated, but you also don’t want to overdo it with drinking fluids (especially alcohol, caffeine and soda) because this will lead to more trips to the bathroom. It can be helpful to reduce your fluid intake before bed so you’re not up in middle of the night to urinate. Try not to drink any liquids after dinnertime, unless you are feeling particularly thirsty or dehydrated. (13)
4. Check Your Medications
Research shows that quite a few medications can lead to frequent urination and other urinary systems, like incontinence. Diuretics are used to increase urine production by the kidneys, so they can certainly lead to frequent urination. Muscle relaxants, sedatives and alpha-adrenergic antagonists may also contribute to frequent urination because they relax the urethra or bladder. (14)
In a cross-sectional study that involved 390 patients aged 60 years and older seeking care for urinary symptoms, specifically incontinence, 60.5 percent of them were taking medications that were potentially contributing to their conditions. These medications included calcium channel blockers, benzodiazepines, ACE inhibitors and estrogens. (15)
5. Modify Your Diet
Research suggests that your dietary choices may have an impact on the health of your urinary system. Some foods and beverages can trigger urinary symptoms, like frequent urination, and should be avoided. This includes the following:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Caffeinated beverages
- Soda and other carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Artificial sweeteners
- Foods high in sugar
- Spicy foods
- Conventional milk products
Foods that can be helpful in supporting the health of your urinary system include vitamin C foods and foods containing beta-cryptoxanthin, a vitamin A carotenoid. (17) Foods containing these nutrients include:
- Sweet peppers
- Green peppers
Research also indicates that consuming probiotic foods, like kefir, fermented vegetables and probiotic yogurt, is associated with a decreased risk of urinary tract infections, one of the major causes of frequent urination. (18)
6. Treat the Cause
As you may have noticed from the lengthy list of frequent urination causes, this symptom can be the result of many underlying conditions, like bladder conditions and urinary tract infections, to type 2 diabetes or pregnancy. If your frequent urination persists, even after trying these natural treatments, you’ll have to focus on what’s causing the issue and then address that condition.
If you are unsure about what’s causing your frequent urination, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider so that he or she can give you a physical examination, ask you some questions and run some tests. (19)
If you are dealing with frequent urination and you develop a fever, pain in your back, abdomen or side, chills, painful urination, loss of bladder control, increased thirst, bloody or cloudy urine or vomiting, contact your doctor or healthcare provider right away.
These are signs that you have an infection or a condition affecting your bladder or kidneys. Your healthcare provider will be able to run some tests and find the cause of these symptoms.
- Frequent urination is the need to urinate more often than usual. There are two terms that are used to describe frequent urination: “polyuria,” which refers to an increased volume of urine and “urinary frequency,” which refers to the passing of a normal amount of urine, but the urge to go more often.
- Some people struggle with nocturia, which is frequent urination at night that hinders your ability to sleep and get the rest you need to function properly during the day.
- Frequent urination is commonly a symptom of another underlying condition. There are many health conditions that can cause frequent urination.
- Besides treating the underlying condition that’s causing frequent urination, natural treatments that you can try at home include pelvic floor training, bladder training, watching your fluid intake, checking your medications, modifying your diet and treating the cause.