Several factors can influence how often an individual pees throughout the day. Medications, supplements, foods, and beverages can all play a role, as can certain medical conditions. Age and bladder size also matter.
The medical community uses the term urinary frequency to describe how often a person pees.
In this article, we discuss healthy and unhealthy frequencies, and how to manage associated symptoms.
Healthy urinary frequency
Urinary frequency depends on the following factors:
- bladder size
- fluid intake
- the presence of medical conditions, such as diabetes and UTIs.
- the types of fluids consumed, as alcohol and caffeine can increase the production of urine
- the use of medications, such as those for blood pressure, and supplements
On average, a person who drinks 64 ounces of fluid in 24 hours will pee approximately seven times during that period.
Urination during pregnancy
The hormonal changes and pressure on the bladder involved in pregnancy can also increase urinary output. This high urinary frequency may continue for up to 8 weeks after giving birth.
Symptoms of peeing too often or not enough
Peeing too rarely or frequently may indicate an underlying condition, especially when accompanied by the following symptoms:
- back pain
- blood in the urine
- cloudy or discolored urine
- difficulty passing urine
- leaking between toilet visits
- pain when urinating
- strong-smelling urine
Treatment can resolve symptoms and prevent complications, so it is important to see a doctor.
Anyone who notices a dramatic change in urinary frequency or output, even if it still falls within the normal range, should seek medical advice.
What factors affect urinary frequency?
However, dramatic changes in urinary frequency can indicate a serious underlying condition.
The Cleveland Clinic has reported that 80 percent of bladder problems are caused by factors beyond the bladder.
Underlying medical conditions
The following conditions may be responsible for changes in urinary frequency:
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): This can cause frequent urination, urinary urgency, a burning sensation or pain while peeing, and back pain. UTIs are very common, especially among women. Antibiotic treatment is usually necessary.
- Overactive bladder: This describes frequent urination and is linked to several issues, including infections, obesity, hormonal imbalances, and nerve damage. Most cases are easily treatable.
- Interstitial cystitis: This long-term condition is also known as painful bladder syndrome. Though no infection is involved, it causes symptoms similar to a UTI. The exact cause is unknown, but it is often linked to bladder inflammation.
- Diabetes: Undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes may lead to high blood sugar levels, which can cause frequent urination.
- Hypocalcemia or hypercalcemia: High calcium levels (hypercalcemia) or low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) affect kidney function and may impact urinary output.
- Sickle cell anemia: This inherited form of anemia, or low red blood cell count, can affect the kidneys and the concentration of urine. This causes some people to pee more often.
- Prostate problems: An enlarged prostate causes a person to urinate less. They may also experience difficulty as the prostate gets larger and blocks the flow of urine.
- Pelvic floor weakness: As the pelvic muscles lose strength, a person may pee more frequently. This is often the result of giving birth.
Drugs called diuretics will cause most people to pee more often. Diuretics take fluid out of the bloodstream and send it to the kidneys.
These medications are often prescribed for people with high blood pressure, kidney problems, or heart conditions.
Examples of diuretics include:
- bumetanide (Bumex)
- chlorothiazide (Diuril)
- furosemide (Lasix)
- metolazone (Zytanix)
- spironolactone (Aldactone)
Consuming a lot of fluid can increase urinary output, while not consuming enough can cause dehydration and diminished output.
Alcohol and caffeine have diuretic effects and increase urinary frequency. A person with no underlying condition may pee more frequently during or shortly after drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine can be found in:
- energy drinks
- hot chocolate
Many people urinate more frequently, especially at night, as they get older.
Most people over the age of 60 do not urinate more than twice nightly, however. If a person wakes up to pee more than twice, they should consult a doctor.
Frequent urination does not require treatment if there is no underlying condition and the frequency is not affecting happiness or quality of life.
Pregnant women also do not require treatment, as the symptom should disappear a few weeks after giving birth.
Any treatment required will depend on the cause. If a condition such as diabetes or a UTI is responsible for frequent urination, treatment will resolve this symptom. It can also increase urinary flow and reduce the size of the prostate.
If treatment is causing a person to pee too often, a doctor can adjust the dosage or prescribe a different medication.
It may be helpful to record fluid intake, urinary frequency, urgency, and other symptoms for 3 or more days before an appointment. This can help a doctor when they are diagnosing and determining the best treatment.
Tips for managing urinary frequency
- Limit the amount of soda, caffeine, and alcohol consumed, or avoid them completely.
- Drink 8 glasses of water daily.
- Pee before and after sexual intercourse, and wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Try probiotic supplements or probiotic-rich foods, including yoghurt, kefir, and kimchi. Probiotics can support genital and urinary health.
- Avoid using fragranced products around the genital area.
- Wear loose cotton underwear and loose clothing to prevent infection and irritation.
- Practice Kegel exercises to strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles.
- Maintain a healthy weight to avoid placing added pressure on the pelvic muscles and bladder.
Some people also find it helpful to stick to a bathroom schedule. This involves going to the bathroom at scheduled times and gradually increasing the time between visits until there is a regular 3-hour gap.
The outlook for peeing too often or not often enough depends on the underlying cause. Most causes of frequent urination can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes.
Anyone concerned about their urinary output should see a doctor as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of complications. Seeking treatment at an early stage may also improve the outlook.