Causes of frequent urination in women and men

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on January 10, 2020. Written by Jordana White. 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.


Many people need to urinate often but aren’t sure if their frequent urination is a medical problem. But what is considered frequent urination—and how do you know if you have a bladder infection or some other issue?

Generally speaking, frequent urination (or urinary frequency) is the need to urinate more often than “normal,” in a 24-hour period. If you go often, or if you wake up more than once a night to use the bathroom, you might be dealing with frequent urination.

What causes frequent urination? For some, the cause could be pregnancy, a urinary tract infection, age-related factors, or an enlarged prostate. For others, though, an overactive bladder may be a sign of an underlying medical condition—so it’s important to determine what’s causing your frequent urination and urinary symptoms, allowing you to take steps to prevent this urinary problem from affecting your daily life and leading to further bladder problems.

Frequent urination causes

There are two possible reasons you experience frequent or urgent urination: either your urine volume increases, or your bladder’s ability to store or expel urine becomes impaired. Causes of frequent urination can include several lifestyle factors.

Drinking a large amount of fluids: If you take in more fluids than your body needs to maintain adequate hydration, you will need to urinate more frequently as a result of higher urine production.

Diet: Both alcohol and caffeine are potential diuretics, which means they can cause frequent and urgent urination. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, beverages with carbonation, and artificial sweeteners are also bladder irritants that can trigger frequent urination.

Some infections can also cause frequent urination, including:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI): When you have a urinary tract infection (or UTI), the lining of your urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder and out of your body) becomes irritated and inflamed. This irritation creates a frequent urge to urinate, even though you may release less urine than usual when you go. UTIs can cause other bladder problems, as well, such as urethral narrowing in men.
  • Trichomoniasis: This sexually transmitted infection (STI) can cause frequent, painful urination. Among women, trichomoniasis symptoms can include greenish-yellow, fish-smelling abnormal vaginal discharge, as well as genital irritation and pain during intercourse. Testing for STIs like trichomoniasis is easy to do from the privacy of home with the Everlywell at-home Trichomoniasis Test.

If lifestyle factors or infections aren’t behind your frequent urination, hormonal changes could be responsible. There are two common causes:

  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women have elevated levels of hormones like progesterone. Combined with the pressure your growing uterus places on your bladder, this hormonal imbalance is among the possible causes of frequent urination in women, even shortly after conception.
  • Menopause: When you enter menopause, your estrogen levels drop. This could impact your urinary tract’s ability to control urination. When this occurs, you may experience frequent urination, more frequent urinary tract infections, and even incontinence. Of course, not every woman entering menopause will experience urinary urgency or other urination issues—but if you think you may be transitioning into menopause and are experiencing urinary frequency, take the at-home Perimenopause Test to check for hormone indicators of the menopause transition.

Here are a few other possible causes of frequent urination in women and men:

  • Stress incontinence: This condition is a common cause of frequent urination in women. In addition to making you go to the bathroom more often, stress incontinence can also cause you to release urine involuntarily when you exercise, cough, sneeze, or even laugh.
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC): While IC feels like an infection, it is actually a chronic condition with symptoms such as pressure and pain in your bladder and pelvis. Excessive urination (up to 60 times a day) is a symptom of IC. As the condition progresses, you may also develop urgency—a frequent or constant urge to urinate, even when your bladder is empty.
  • Overactive bladder (OAB) syndrome: Many women in the U.S. are living with OAB—a name that describes a group of urinary symptoms, including frequency and urgency. It’s important to note that overactive bladder is not a disease itself; it is also not a normal part of aging. It is, instead, a way of describing a group of urinary symptoms.

Certain medical conditions can involve frequent urination.

  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes: Frequent urination is an early symptom of both forms of diabetes. It’s your body’s attempt to flush out excess blood sugar through its urine. In later stages, diabetics with nerve damage may experience frequency or challenges with bladder control.
  • Bladder cancer: If you have tumors or bleeding in your bladder, you may urinate frequently.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS): At least 80% of people living with MS experience some form of bladder dysfunction, including the frequent need to urinate. That’s because MS lesions can interfere with your brain’s ability to transmit signals to your bladder.
  • Neurological disease or stroke: Any medical condition that damages your nerves may affect your bladder. If that occurs, it can cause you to experience bladder problems like frequency and urgency.

Seeking medical care for frequent urination

You should seek medical attention if you have frequent urination with incontinence, nighttime urination, or if it gets in the way of your daily activities.

You should seek emergency treatment if you have frequent urination and any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever and chills
  • Abdominal, lower back, or side pain
  • Bloody, dark, or cloudy urine
  • Vomiting
  • Increased appetite or excessive thirst
  • Vaginal or penile discharge

Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and take your medical history. To treat frequent urination, your healthcare provider will first treat any infections or medical conditions that may be contributing to the problem.

Afterward, your healthcare provider will help you decide how to stop frequent urination. You may need prescription medications to help control your frequent urination.

Remedies for frequent urination

Here are some remedies you can try to reduce a frequent urge to urinate.

Dietary changes: Stay away from bladder irritants and diuretics, including caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, carbonated drinks, citrus and tomato-based products, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods. You can also incorporate more fiber into your diet, since constipation can contribute to the symptoms of frequent urination.

Drinking less: Take in just enough fluids to avoid dehydration and constipation. Cut off all drinking at least an hour before bedtime to avoid nighttime urination.

Kegel exercises: Identify the muscles you use to hold in your urine, then squeeze, hold, and release those muscles for five-minute intervals, three times a day. These exercises help reduce frequent urination by strengthening the muscles around your urethra and bladder.

While frequent urination can be frustrating, you can overcome the challenges of this condition by identifying its cause and seeking appropriate treatment in response.

Common questions

Is there a way to prevent frequent urination?

There are no guarantees, but sticking to a balanced diet and staying active helps keep your urine flowing properly. This is especially true if your diet avoids irritating foods in favor of high-fiber options that can help prevent constipation.


Will changing my diet help control my frequent urination?

While there is no specific diet that can help control frequent urination, certain foods help promote a healthy bladder. Some examples include whole grains, nuts, eggs, bananas, and pears. Foods to avoid include dairy products, citrus fruits, and artificial sweeteners.


References

1. Urination: Frequent Urination. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

2. Nik-Ahd F, Lenore Ackerman A, Anger J. Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Females and the Overlap with Overactive Bladder. Curr Urol Rep. 2018;19(11):94. doi:10.1007/s11934-018-0839-3

3. Trichomoniasis. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

4. What are some common signs of pregnancy? National Institutes of Health. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

5. Jones HJ, Huang AJ, Subak LL, Brown JS, Lee KA. Bladder Symptoms in the Early Menopausal Transition. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2016;25(5):457–463. doi:10.1089/jwh.2015.5370

6. Urinary incontinence. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

7. Interstitial cystitis. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

8. Overactive bladder. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

9. Diabetes symptoms: When diabetes symptoms are a concern. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

10. Bladder cancer. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

11. Bladder Problems. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

12. Urinary Incontinence in Neurological Disease: Management of Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction in Neurological Disease. National Clinical Guideline Centre (UK). URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

13. Urination: Frequent Urination: When to Call the Doctor. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

14. 10 Foods Your Bladder Will Fall in Love With. Urology Care Foundation. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

15. Bladder Irritants. Johns Hopkins Medicine. URL. Accessed January 10, 2020.

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