What is frequent urination?

Frequent urination is an inconvenient condition that can affect both men and women. It is sometimes called overactive bladder or urgent urination. When this condition happens at night, it is called nocturia.

Frequent urination can be a main problem, or the symptom of another problem. It can cause embarrassment and inconvenience during the day, and sleep problems at night. It is usually manageable, often by dealing with the underlying condition.

Who experiences frequent urination?

Frequent urination can affect anyone. However, it is most common in men and women in middle-age or older. It is also common in pregnant women.

What causes frequent urination?

There are a number of different conditions that may cause frequent urination. The most common causes of frequent urination vary based on age and gender. They range from minor to serious. These causes include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI): This is the most common cause of frequent urination. The inflammation caused by the infection reduces the bladder's ability to hold urine.
  • Diabetes: Frequent urination can be a symptom of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
  • Prostate problems: This is a major cause of frequent urination in men. An enlarged prostate can block the flow of urine, causing the bladder to become irritated and contract.
  • Pregnancy: Frequent urination is a harmless symptom of most pregnancies. As the uterus and baby grow, they place pressure on the bladder, causing the need to urinate.
  • Interstitial cystitis: A condition that causes pelvic and bladder pain and the feeling of having to urinate constantly.
  • Diuretics: Medicines used to treat other conditions such as high blood pressure can cause frequent urination as excess fluids are flushed from the body.
  • Stroke: A stroke can damage nerves in the bladder and lead to frequent urination.
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine use.
  • Bladder cancer: Frequent urination is a rare symptom of bladder cancer. A more common symptom is blood in the urine.
  • Pelvic tumor: Another rare cause of frequent urination.
  • Overactive bladder syndrome: A common cause of the frequent urgent need to urinate.
  • Radiation therapy to the pelvic area.
  • Vaginitis: An inflammation of the vagina that causes the frequent need to urinate for women.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor.

When should you be concerned about frequent urination?

In some cases, frequent urination may be just an inconvenience that will end after pregnancy, or if a person cuts back on alcohol or caffeine use, for example. Treating a UTI through antibiotics also usually resolves frequent urination. But, frequent urination can also be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, and should always be discussed with your doctor.

You should see your doctor immediately if your frequent urination is accompanied by other symptoms such as:

How is frequent urination diagnosed?

Your doctor will first conduct a physical exam. He or she will usually ask questions such as:

  • What medicines are you taking?
  • How much fluid do you usually drink?
  • Are you drinking more than usual?
  • Do you drink alcohol or caffeine?

He or she will then usually take a urine sample to conduct a urinalysis to check for bacteria, white blood cells – which could indicate infection – and other compounds that may be present in your urine. Most UTIs will be diagnosed this way.

The doctor may do other tests, including a cystoscopy, to look inside your bladder. Another test is a cystometry, which checks the muscles of the bladder. You may have an ultrasound to view the bladder and other organs. The ultrasound will show tumors or other causes that might lead to frequent urination.

Based on his or her findings, you will be given a prescription, a treatment plan, or further tests.

What are the symptoms of frequent urination?

Fortunately for sufferers of frequent urination, symptoms are easily spotted. If you feel the need to urinate more than 4 to 8 times in a day, there is a very likely chance that you have issues with frequent urination. It is important to check with your doctor if you are a normal healthy adult (non-pregnant) and urinate more frequently than 4 to 8 times a day.

How is frequent urination treated?

Frequent urination is usually treated by addressing the underlying cause.

Treatment for frequent urination will usually address the underlying problem that is causing the condition. For example, antibiotics will be used to treat a UTI. If you are found to have diabetes or a prostate problem, you will most likely be told to see a specialist in those conditions.

If your doctor sees that your condition is caused by overactive bladder syndrome, you may be prescribed a medicine such as Ditropan® or Vesicare® to help calm your bladder. He or she may also advise lifestyle changes or exercises that may help decrease the frequency of your need to urinate. These include:

  • Avoiding drinking fluids before bed.
  • Reducing your alcohol and caffeine consumption.
  • Kegel exercises to strengthen the bladder muscles. These are often prescribed to women who have given birth vaginally to strengthen their pelvic muscles.

You may also be told to use an adult undergarment for a short period of time while you are treating the underlying condition.


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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/29/2014...#15533