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14th October, 20217 min read

Frequent urination: Why do I need to pee so much?

Medical reviewer:Dr Adiele Hoffman
Author:Dr Roger Henderson
Last reviewed: 23/09/2021
Medically reviewed

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What is considered ‘frequent urination’?

Frequent urination (’peeing’ or passing urine) is when you have to pee more often than usual in a 24-hour period, including during the night. It can affect both men and women.

The number of times you normally pee each day varies, but most people pass urine 6-8 times a day. However, up to 10 times a day can also be normal if you’re healthy and happy with the number of times you visit the toilet.
There are many different reasons why you may need to pee more often than usual, from drinking too much fluid to certain medical problems. Other causes of excess peeing may include pregnancy, getting older or having conditions like diabetes, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or prostate problems.

You may also pee more often if you’re taking certain medications such as ‘water tablets’ (diuretics) for conditions such as high blood pressure.
Needing to pee all the time can be a nuisance and sometimes cause worry or stress. However, once the cause has been diagnosed, frequent peeing can usually be managed either through lifestyle changes or medical treatment.

What are the common causes of frequent urination?

One of the most common causes of needing to pee all the time is a UTI. This is where germs (bacteria) enter the body from outside and cause inflammation in the tube leading to the bladder, the bladder itself or the kidneys.
The usual symptoms of a UTI are:

  • needing to pee more often
  • having a fever or feeling hot and shivery
  • A pain or a burning feeling when you pee

You may also find that your pee looks more cloudy than usual or there may be blood in it, you may need to rush to the loo to pee urgently and you may have pain low down in your tummy or in your back or sides.

Other common causes of frequent peeing include:

  • pregnancy. As a baby grows and takes up more space in the womb, it can squash the bladder and cause you to pee more than usual. This is more likely to happen early and late in your pregnancy
  • diabetes. Peeing more than usual is often an early symptom of diabetes. When there’s too much sugar in the body, the kidneys try to get rid of it through the urine, which results in excess peeing. Other symptoms of diabetes include feeling thirsty all the time, tiredness, losing weight and regular infections such as spots or boils
  • prostate problems. If your prostate gland gets bigger, it can press against the tube that carries your pee out of your body (the urethra) and slow down the flow. This can lead to pressure on the bladder, making you pee more than usual. Other symptoms include needing to pee more often at night, taking a long time before you can start to pee, having a weak stream and dribbling urine after you think you have finished. There may also be ‘stop-start’ peeing when your urine suddenly stops before starting again. Prostate problems are more common as you get older
  • an overactive bladder. This is when the bladder, which is a bag made of muscle that stores your urine, squeezes suddenly when it isn’t full. This makes you lose control of being able to pee normally and causes you to run to the toilet more often
  • drinking too much alcohol or caffeine

Pregnant woman

Less common causes include:

When to see a doctor about peeing frequently

Call an ambulance or go straight to an emergency department if you’re peeing more than usual, it hurts when you pee and you:

  • have very bad pain in your back, side or tummy
  • have lots of blood in your pee
  • feel drowsy
  • suddenly cannot pee or have not peed all day
  • have trouble moving your arms or legs, drooping of one side of your face or trouble talking
  • have problems seeing, such as blurred vision, double vision or you can’t see

See a doctor urgently if you’re peeing more than usual and you:

  • have a fever or feeling shivery and shaky (rigors)
  • are vomiting
  • are thirsty all the time
  • have lost weight that you have not intended to lose
  • see any blood in your urine
  • have diabetes
  • have pain in your back, side or tummy

You should also see a doctor if you:

  • have a rash or blisters in your genital area
  • have unusual vaginal or penis discharge, or you think you could be at risk of a sexual infection
  • feel generally unwell or tired
  • are not getting better after a couple of days

Your doctor will take a medical history, examine you and test your urine for blood, sugar and infections. Depending on their findings, they may recommend extra checks like blood tests or an ultrasound scan of the bladder.

How to stop frequent urination

Treatment depends on what’s causing you to pee a lot. Painkillers can be taken to help ease any pain. You should also drink enough fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. For UTIs, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed. If diabetes is the cause of your frequent peeing, you will need a treatment plan to help control your blood sugar levels. Prostate problems may be treated with medication or surgery, if needed. An overactive bladder can often be managed with lifestyle changes or medication, though surgery may also be an option.

Water

Ways you can help your constant need to pee include:

  • avoiding drinking fluids before bedtime
  • avoiding drinking too much fluid overall each day as well as not enough (not drinking enough fluids can make your pee very strong and this can irritate your bladder)
  • limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • gradually increasing the time between peeing. This allows your bladder to fill more fully and gives you more control over the need to pee. This is called bladder training.
  • avoiding constipation
  • doing pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the bladder
  • staying at a healthy weight. Being overweight puts pressure on your abdomen and bladder and can make you want to pee more
  • not smoking. Smokers are more likely to have bladder control problems and to have more severe symptoms
  • keeping active. Regular physical activity improves bladder control so aim for at least 30 minutes of low-impact moderate activity – such as walking briskly, cycling or swimming - most days of the week

Your health questions answered

  • What are the symptoms of urinary retention?

    Answered by: Dr Roger Henderson

    Urinary retention is when you’re unable to pee. It can happen suddenly or slowly develop over time, depending on the cause. Urinary retention can be very uncomfortable. The longer you can’t pee, the more painful it often gets. Your lower tummy becomes very tender to touch and can swell up because of all the urine that builds up in the bladder. You usually feel desperate to go for a pee, but when you try to you can’t. The treatment is to put a tube (a catheter) into your bladder to drain the urine and provide relief. Urine retention is a medical emergency and so should always be treated immediately to prevent any damage to the kidneys.

Key takeaways

  • frequent urination is common, especially in older people
  • speak with your doctor if you’re peeing more often for no obvious reason and it’s affecting your sleep or your everyday activities
  • see a doctor urgently if you have symptoms such as pain when peeing, blood in your urine, constant thirst, unexplained weight loss or if you’re feeling unwell
  • altering what you drink and making lifestyle changes may help reduce the number of times you have to pee each day
  • some medications can make you pass more urine. Discuss with your doctor any medicine you’re taking to see if it might be making you pee more
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