An Overview of Frequent Urination

Why It Happens and What You Can Do About It

In This Article
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Frequent urination is often caused by drinking lots of liquids, especially caffeine. If your frequent urination isn’t related to what you’re drinking, it may be caused by an underlying medical condition. While it could be a simple reason such as the medication you're taking or a urinary tract infection (UTI), it could also be a sign of chronic condition such as interstitial cystitis or diabetes.

Frequent Urination Symptoms

The obvious symptom of frequent urination is just that—needing to urinate more often than usual. It might happen during the day, or it might happen more at night, a condition called nocturia. Symptoms can include the following:

  • Having to go to the bathroom more than eight times in 24 hours
  • Waking up more than once in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom
  • Having the urge to urinate frequently even when you don’t have to go

Urinary frequency may occur on its own or with other symptoms, such as fever, pain, or increased thirst. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any other symptoms along with urinary frequency.

Causes

Your doctor will review your symptoms when determining the likely cause of your urinary frequency. Some of these causes include:

  • Bladder cancer: Bladder cancer is a rare cause of frequent urination. It is often accompanied by the frequent need to urinate, pain when urinating, and blood in the urine.
  • Diabetes (type 1 and type 2): Frequent urination can be one of the signs of diabetes. Diabetes causes an increase in urine as the body works to rid itself of extra glucose.
  • Diuretics: These medications are used to treat high blood pressure or the excessive accumulation of fluids in tissue. They can cause an increase in urination.
  • Interstitial cystitis (IC): This chronic bladder condition can lead to bladder pressure, pain, and the urge to urinate frequently. With IC, you may experience pain without urgency and frequency, or you might have frequency and urgency without pain.
  • Neurological diseases: Conditions like a stroke or Parkinson’s disease can damage the nerves that control the bladder. This can lead to bladder problems including the constant urge to urinate.
  • Overactive bladder: Having an overactive bladder means that you experience the frequent and urgent need to urinate, even when your bladder isn’t full. Overactive bladder may or may not include urinary leakage, also called incontinence. It may be caused by nerve problems but often the cause is unknown.
  • Pregnancy: When you’re pregnant, it can increase the need to urinate because of hormones and the pressure of the baby against the bladder.
  • Prostate disease: Prostate conditions, including benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), cancer, and prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) can impede the flow of urine through the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). This can lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder and urinary frequency.
  • Radiation therapy: One of the side effects of radiation to the pelvis is urinary frequency. The radiation can irritate the bladder and urinary tract, causing bladder spasms and an urgent need to go to the bathroom.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI): If you have a urinary tract infection, it can cause an urgent need to urinate frequently even after you already emptied your bladder. Symptoms may also include pain with urination, low-grade fever, and cloudy or bloody urine. UTIs are much more common in women than in men. 

Diagnosis

Frequent urination can be a symptom of many different conditions. Your doctor will usually perform a physical exam and ask whether you are on any medications, have any symptoms of infection, or have had any change in your eating or drinking habits.

Your doctor will also likely ask for a urine sample to check for bacteria or white blood cells that could indicate an infection. Other possible tests include cystometry to test how to muscles of your bladder are working, cystoscopy to look inside your bladder, or an ultrasound to look for cancers and other structural causes of frequent urination.

Treatment

Treating the underlying condition is usually the best way to deal with frequent urination. This may mean controlling a person's diabetes, treating a urinary tract infection with antibiotics, or undergoing cancer therapy.

If the condition is diagnosed as overactive bladder, treatment may include diet modification, Kegel exercises to build up strength in the pelvic floor, monitoring fluid intake, and behavioral therapies such as bladder training.

Bladder training entails keeping to a strict urination schedule and increasing the time between when you empty your bladder. The aim is to increase both the amount of time between when you urinate and how much liquid your bladder can hold. Your doctor may also prescribe a medicine that calms the muscles and nerves.

Interstitial cystitis doesn’t have a cure, but there are treatments that may ease your symptoms including bladder distention (stretching) under anesthesia, oral medication, bladder training, and diet and lifestyle choices. You may find that avoiding some foods and drinks can help manage your symptoms.

A Word From Verywell

Frequent urination can have many different causes, so it’s important to get it checked out with your doctor. Whether it’s short-term or long-term treatment, your doctor can help find a way to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Frequent or urgent urination. MedlinePlus. Updated May 31, 2018.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Urination: Frequent Urination. Updated November 8, 2019.

  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Interstitial Cystitis. MedlinePlus. 

  4. Urology Care Foundation. Overactive Bladder: Patient Guide.

  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Overactive bladder. MedlinePlus. 

  6. National Cancer Institute. Side Effects of Cancer Treatment: Urinary and Bladder Problems. Updated January 23, 2020. 

  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Urinary tract infection-adults. MedlinePlus. Updated June 28, 2018.

  8. University of California San Francisco. Bladder Training

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