Need to wee more often than usual? You may be suffering from frequent urination.
Frequent urination means you feel the urge to wee more regularly than is normal for you. It might be nothing to worry about (are you on your sixth cup of tea today?), or it could be the sign of an infection or underlying medical condition.
Frequent urination is not the same as urinary incontinence. and is normally only considered a problem if it’s interfering with your daily life, or if you experience additional symptoms, such as pain, fever or blood in your urine.
We speak to GP Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa about the signs and symptoms of frequent urination, and what you can do about it:
What’s a normal amount to wee per day?
While needing to wee fairly often can be perfectly normal, if you need to urinate so frequently that it interferes with your work, your hobbies or your sleep, you might have a problem that needs investigating. So, what is normal?
Most people urinate six to seven times every 24 hours, although between four and 10 times can be normal.
‘Most people urinate six to seven times every 24 hours, although between four and 10 times a day can be normal for some,’ says Dr Di Cuffa.
‘If you drink a lot or are pregnant, for example, you are more likely to need to urinate. Also, some medications, such as diuretics for high blood pressure, might make you need to go for a wee more often,’ he adds.
When is it considered ‘frequent’ urination?
If you are going more than 10 times a day, it could simply be because you’re drinking too much water or caffeine, which acts like a diuretic.
The measure of the problem is whether you are needing to urinate more often because there’s an underlying medical reason.
‘Really, the measure of the problem is whether you are needing to urinate more often than normal because there’s an underlying medical reason that needs to be looked at,’ says Dr Di Cuffa.
‘For example, you may have an overactive bladder, a weak bladder or a urine infection. Both men and women can be affected, and when a person needs to urinate frequently at night, it is called nocturia.’
What are the causes of frequent urination?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common cause of frequent urination, which occur when bacteria invade the urethra. Other possible frequent urination causes include:
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Pure habit
- Interstitial cystitis
- Urinary incontinence
- Overactive bladder syndrome
- Diuretic medication
- Stress or anxiety
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Prostate or gynaecological abnormality
When should you see your doctor?
Dr Di Cuffa recommends you should see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience frequent urination alongside any of these additional symptoms:
✔️ Loss of bladder control
✔️ Blood in your urine, or red or dark brown urine
✔️ Pain while urinating
✔️ Pain in your side, lower abdomen or groin
✔️ Difficulty urinating or emptying your bladder totally
✔️ Any lumps or bumps in your pelvic area
What causes frequent urination?
If you think you might be suffering from frequent urination, your GP will discuss your medical history with you, to learn about any health issues you have and when the problem started. ‘Your doctor may then gently examine your abdomen and pelvis, and on occasion maybe your genitals and rectum,’ explains Dr Di Cuffa. ‘You may be asked to do a urine sample that they can test on the spot for abnormalities, which may indicate an infection.’
‘The sample may be sent off to a laboratory and tested, to look for bacteria or white blood cells,’ he adds. ‘which could indicate a urinary tract infection; evidence of blood or protein, which could be a sign of a kidney problem; or glucose, which could signal diabetes. You might also have a neurological exam, to look for problems in your nervous system that may affect your ability to urinate.’
Overactive bladder lifestyle changes
If you have an overactive bladder it is worth considering making a few lifestyle changes. ‘There are loads of things you can do to help if you have an overactive bladder,’ says Dr Di Cuffa. His recommendations include:
- Regular pelvic floor exercises
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Bladder training, with scheduled toilet trips
- Eating a fibre-rich diet, with plenty of fruit and veg, to avoid constipation
How can you treat frequent urination?
‘If you have an infection, antibiotics will usually quickly clear it up,’ says Dr Di Cuffa. ‘There are also other medications that relax the bladder, which can be helpful for relieving symptoms of an overactive bladder and reducing episodes of urge incontinence.
‘In some cases, bladder injections may be used, to stop severe urge incontinence. Nerve stimulation or surgery may also be considered.’