What is frequent urination a sign of?

What is frequent urination a sign of?

Medically reviewed on February 15, 2022 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Everything that you eat or drink gets broken down during digestion. Some of those components, like vitamins and minerals, get used up by various organs, tissues, and cells to maintain various functions. Other parts end up turning into glucose to fuel your cells, but you always end up with some amount of waste that needs to be removed from your body.

Your urine comprises waste products from your blood, along with excess water in your system. On average, a regular, healthy individual should pee about six to eight times per day, though if you are drinking a lot, it’s not uncommon to pee more often than that [1]. It can be hard to gauge exactly what “peeing too much” can comprise as that can vary so much from person to person. Still, if you feel like your urination is frequent enough to interfere with your everyday life significantly, it’s worth consulting your doctor. Discover what frequent urination may be a sign of below (if you're wondering if it may be related to diabetes, consider learning more about the at-home HbA1c Test).

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What Controls Your Urination?

Urinating is a complex process that involves your brain, nervous system, and pelvic organs. Organs in your pelvis include your bladder, urethra, and prostate [2].

Your bladder tends to be considered one of the main organs involved with urination, and for a good reason. The bladder is the organ that is responsible for storing urine and emptying it out of your body. The outflow of urine is controlled by two valves, or sphincters, located where the bladder and the urethra connect. The internal sphincter muscles at the bladder neck only open when your brain signals urination. The external sphincter muscles surround the internal sphincter and allow for extra pressure to keep the urethra closed. While the internal sphincter is involuntary, you can consciously control the external sphincter along with the pelvic floor muscles to keep urine in [3].

Urination occurs when the brain tells both sphincters to relax. It then sends signals to bladder walls to tighten, which squeezes the urine out via the urethra [3].

The frequency of urination depends on the speed at which the kidney produces urine and the amount of urine that the bladder can hold. As your bladder fills with urine, your bladder wall stays relaxed, and your sphincter muscles stay contracted to keep the urine in. As your bladder reaches a certain threshold, signals get sent to your brain, telling you that it might be time to head to the restroom [3].

Causes of Frequent Urination

A wide range of factors can cause frequent urination. Some of these factors aren’t a sign of bad health, while others may point to more serious underlying issues.

Diuretics

As mentioned, simply drinking too much fluid throughout the day will result in you urinating more often, but certain drinks may make you pee more regardless of how much you consume. Diuretics refer to any substance that helps rid your body of water and sodium, essentially making you pee more frequently. These are a type of medication commonly used for high blood pressure, but other common substances are also considered diuretics [4]. Caffeine is a mild, short-term diuretic, which is why you might find yourself peeing more after drinking your morning coffee [4]. Alcohol is a more substantial diuretic, contributing to dehydration if you drink too much [5].

Age

As you get older, it’s normal for you to pee more often and lose a bit of bladder control. Studies suggest that over 45 percent of women over the age of 65 have an overactive bladder [6]. Part of this comes from weakened muscles in your pelvic floor, making it harder for you to hold your pee. This can result in more bathroom trips in the middle of the night. Usually, it’s not abnormal to go to the bathroom twice per night for those over 60. However, peeing more than that can point to other underlying health issues [6].

Pregnancy

Frequent urination is common during pregnancy because the development of the fetus puts added pressure on your bladder. This becomes more defined in your first and third trimesters. In your second trimester, the uterus is higher in your body, which removes pressure from your bladder. Frequent urination should subside within a few weeks or months following childbirth [7].

Perimenopause and Menopause

Perimenopause and menopause may also cause frequent urination. Perimenopause is characterized by fluctuating hormones that affect your reproductive health, allowing for a transition into your non-childbearing years. During perimenopause, your estrogen levels diminish. Among other effects, reduced estrogen causes the lining of the urethra to get thinner. Combined with weakening your pelvic muscles, this can result in more frequent urination or even incontinence [8]. If you think you may be in perimenopause, it’s a good idea to test using the Everlywell perimenopause kit to know for sure.

Problems in the Urinary Tract or Bladder

Some of the most common causes of frequent urination involve conditions related to your urinary tract and bladder. Urinary tract infections, caused by bacteria infecting your urinary system, are often characterized by frequent urination. Interstitial cystitis is a condition that causes pain in the bladder along with frequent urination. In some rare cases, cancer in the bladder can also lead to frequent urination [7].

Prostate Issues

The prostate is the organ responsible for creating some of the fluid that goes into semen. Due to its proximity to the bladder, a large prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, can put extra pressure on the bladder, resulting in frequent urination. BPH is relatively common and can be treated easily by your doctor [7].

Frequent urination is a common symptom of many conditions. Some of those conditions aren’t anything to worry about, while others can be serious problems for your health. In either case, if your urinary habits are bothersome enough to interfere with your everyday life, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor.

Diabetes

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterized by high blood sugar and can contribute to frequent urination. This is linked to how your kidneys function and they are responsible for filtering your blood. With diabetes, you have excess glucose in your blood, so your kidneys have to work extra hard to filter your blood, leading to more fluid waste. This causes more urination and more fluids leaving your body. To compensate, you naturally end up drinking more to stay hydrated, which only contributes more to frequent urination [7].

To check a key indicator of blood sugar levels from the convenience of home, take the at-home HbA1c Test.

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References

1. What Your Bladder Is Trying to Tell You About Your Health. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

2. Urinary Incontinence. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

3. The Urinary Tract & How It Works. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

4. Diuretics. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

5. Polhuis KCMM, Wijnen AHC, Sierksma A, Calame W, Tieland M. The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial. Nutrients. 2017;9(7):660. Published 2017 Jun 28.

6. Pratt TS, Suskind AM. Management of Overactive Bladder in Older Women. Curr Urol Rep. 2018;19(11):92. Published 2018 Sep 10.

7. Urination: Frequent Urination. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

8. Menopause. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed February 15, 2022.

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