Found yourself visiting the bathroom more often than usual lately? If so, it could be that you’re simply drinking too much — or you might have an underlying health condition.
As its name suggests, frequent urination is the technical term used when passing urine more often than normal.
For most people, urinating six to seven times over a 24-hour period (when drinking two litres of fluid) is completely normal1. Any more than that and it could be a sign of a bigger problem1.
Urinating on a more regular basis can have a significant impact on daily life, not only affecting your sleeping pattern due to having to wake up in the night but also interfering with your work, hobbies and overall mood. Getting to the root of the issue is therefore crucial.
In this article, we are going to be discussing some of the main causes of frequent urination, highlighting what you can do to treat the issue and restore your number of bathroom visits back to a much more manageable level.
What causes frequent urination?
Urination is a complex process that involves a complex network of signals between the nervous system and the urinary tract system2. This means that needing to urinate more frequently can be caused by several things, ranging from smaller issues like taking on too much caffeine3 to bigger concerns like kidney disease or having an enlarged prostate4.
Some of the key causes of frequent urination can include the following4:
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common reasons for frequent urination5 and are often caused by bacterial or fungal infections that can affect your bladder, urethra or other parts of your urinary tract.
Uncontrolled diabetes can cause frequent urination due to elevated blood glucose levels6.
When your body is unable to break down glucose, this leads to higher levels of it within the blood. This can then overwhelm your kidneys' ability to filter it out, dragging water into the urine through osmosis and creating symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination) or polydipsia (increased thirst to compensate for fluid loss)6.
Having an enlarged prostate can put added pressure on your bladder and urinary system, which can cause you to urinate more often.
The prostate is a small gland about the size and shape of a walnut that is located below the neck of the bladder. The urethra runs through the centre of the prostate, from the bladder through the penis, letting urine flow out of the body.
As men age, the prostate can become larger. Over 40% of men in their 50s and over 80% of men in their 70s have an enlarged prostate, a condition also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH7.
It can also cause you to encounter difficulties while urinating, such as difficulty starting your urine stream, a need to push or strain when urinating, incomplete emptying, weak urine flow or pain during urination8,9.
Lifestyle and other causes
While the factors mentioned above may be the most commonly associated causes of frequent urination4, they can also be a symptom of several other underlying conditions and infections. These may include4,10:
- Interstitial cystitis
- Taking diuretic medications
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia
- Neurological issues like stroke or Parkinson’s disease
- Having radiotherapy
Your diet can also create an increased need to urinate.
Foods that contain chocolate, chilli or artificial sweeteners, for example, can irritate the bladder or act as a diuretic (similar to diuretic medications, also known as “water pills”), while alcohol or caffeine can impact your body’s ability to excrete water, promoting fluid loss3.
Diagnosing the cause of frequent urination
If your need to constantly visit the bathroom is affecting your quality of life, it might be time to visit a doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of the issue and put you on an appropriate treatment plan.
If you do have an underlying condition you’re not aware of, the sooner you can be evaluated by a medical professional, the better.
Diagnosing the cause of your need to frequently urinate will involve your doctor asking you a few key details about you and your medical history. This may include questions about any medications you currently take, your diet (in terms of caffeine, alcohol and fluid intake) and various other lifestyle factors.
They will also likely ask about the frequency and pattern of your urination, any other symptoms you have, and any changes in the colour, smell or consistency of your urine.
Once they have all of this information, they may then perform a physical examination and/or run a few diagnostic tests. These can include:
- Urine sample analysis
- Ultrasound, X-ray or CT scans
- Neurological tests
- STI tests
- Blood tests
- Urodynamic testing
Treatment options for frequent urination
Finding the right course of treatment will depend on what’s causing your need to urinate so frequently.
If, for example, you are found to have an underlying kidney or urinary tract infection, your doctor will typically prescribe pain relief and antibiotics to help with your symptoms.
Alternatively, if you are diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, while your doctor will likely prescribe some medication as a first-line treatment, they may also recommend the UroLift system — a minimally invasive procedure.
Since many men may encounter side effects as a result of taking medication, or simply don’t like the idea of taking a pill every day, the UroLift system may be recommended due to its ability to reduce the number of times you have to get up at night to urinate11.
Whatever the cause of your frequent urination, your doctor will be able to talk to you about the best course of treatment for your specific circumstances — whether that be a particular medication, therapy or other type of intervention.
Making small changes to your lifestyle, like reducing your intake of caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and artificial sweeteners, could also have an impact on how often you need to urinate.
Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and managing your fluid consumption can help improve your bladder control and may reduce your number of trips to the bathroom.
FAQs on frequent urination
Feeling the need to urinate on a frequent basis can be a cause for concern, due to the symptom’s association with a range of potential underlying health issues.
Listed below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about frequent urination, designed to help you better understand and manage your urinary health.
What are the common causes of frequent urination?
Frequent urination can be caused by a variety of factors and can be a common symptom of several conditions.
However, the most common causes of frequent urination include UTIs, having an enlarged prostate (in men), pregnancy (in women), diabetes, having an overactive bladder, neurological conditions and as a result of taking certain medications4.
When should I consult a doctor about my frequent urination?
An occasional increase in your need to urinate is completely normal and can be brought on by a number of things, including your fluid intake and certain dietary changes.
If, however, you notice any new or concerning changes in your urinary habits, you should consult a healthcare professional.
Likewise, if you experience pain while urinating, blood in your urine, difficulty when releasing urine or any other concerning urinary symptoms, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Is frequent urination more common in certain age groups?
Yes, you are more likely to frequently urinate if you are pregnant, aged over 70 years old or have an enlarged prostate4.
Older adults are more likely to experience an overactive bladder12, which can lead to an increased need to urinate – even at low bladder volumes13.
Having an enlarged prostate is more prevalent than prostate cancer7,14 and can cause bothersome urinary symptoms by pressing on and blocking the urethra.
Is it normal to wake up to urinate at night?
Yes, waking up to urinate in the middle of the night is perfectly normal. In fact, you may find yourself going more than once, depending on your age.
However, depending on how often you’re waking to urinate, this could also be a sign of a health condition known as nocturia.
Generally speaking, the prevalence of nocturia increases with increasing age in both men and women. For patients aged between 60 and 70 years old, the prevalence of nocturia is somewhere between 11% and 50%15. Whereas, for patients aged over 80 years old, this rises to between 80% and 90%, with 30% experiencing two or more episodes nightly15.
Therefore, it could be worth visiting a doctor if your urination schedule becomes overly frequent.
Using a minimally invasive treatment like the UroLift system, for instance, could help offer rapid symptom relief16 and lead to a significant improvement in quality of life17.
How do certain medications contribute to frequent urination?
Some types of medications, including diuretics like chlorothiazide, can increase urine production and create a need to urinate more frequently9.
Certain antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs have also been shown to impact bladder function and lead to urinary symptoms18.
Which foods should I avoid to prevent frequent urination?
Making small lifestyle changes, like altering your diet, could help reduce your number of visits to the bathroom. Here are some foods believed to have an effect on our bladders19:
- Cranberry juice
- Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurts
- Spicy foods
- Fizzy drinks
- Sugar and honey
- Artificial sweeteners
Can stress or anxiety contribute to frequent urination?
Yes, feelings of stress, anxiety and depression are believed to contribute to frequent urination20.
The exact reason for this remains relatively unknown. However, some experts believe that it could be related to feelings of stress causing muscle tension, which then affects the muscles of the bladder and leads to an increased urge to urinate20.
Find a UroLift specialist
The UroLift system uses a minimally invasive approach to treating BPH — a condition that affects over 700 million ageing men worldwide7,21.
Commonly performed as a same-day outpatient procedure under local anaesthesia22, the UroLift system works by using small implants to lift and hold enlarged prostate tissue away from the urethra, helping improve urine flow and reduce associated symptoms.
To find out more about the UroLift system, our ‘Find a Physician’ service will put you in touch with a specialist who will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
The UroLift System is indicated for the treatment of symptoms of an enlarged prostate up to 100cc in men 50 years or older. As with any medical procedure, individual results may vary. Most common side effects are temporary and include pain or burning with urination, blood in the urine, pelvic pain, urgent need to urinate and/or the inability to control the urge16. Rare side effects, including bleeding and infection, may lead to a serious outcome and may require intervention. Speak with your doctor to determine if you may be a candidate.
Please see the Instructions for Use for a complete listing of the indications, contraindications, warnings and precautions.
- Bladder & Bowel Community (2021) Urinary frequency. Available at: https://www.bladderandbowel.org/bladder/bladder-conditions-and-symptoms/frequency/.
- Cortes, G. A., & Flores, J. L. (2022). Physiology, Urination. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
- Alwis, U., Haddad, R., Monaghan, T., et al. (2020). Impact of food and drinks on urine production: A systematic review. Int J Clin Pract. 74(9): e13539.
- Cleveland Clinic (2023) Frequent urination. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/15533-frequent-urination
- Bono, M. J., Leslie, S. W., & Reygaert, W. C. (2022). Urinary Tract Infection. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
- MedicalNewsToday (2021) Why might frequent urination indicate diabetes? Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-pee
- Berry, S, et al. (1984) The Development of Human Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia with Age. J Urology. 132: 474-479.
- Rosenberg, Int J Clin Pract 2007
- Vuichoud, Can J Urol 2015
- Spire Healthcare (2018) Frequent urination. Available at: https://www.spirehealthcare.com/symptoms/frequent-urination/
- Gratzke, BJU Int 2016
- NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA) (2022) Urinary incontinence in older adults. National Institute on Aging. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/urinary-incontinence-older-adults
- Leron, E., Weintraub, A., Mastrolia, S. & Schwarzman, P. (2018) Overactive Bladder Syndrome: Evaluation and Management. Curr Urol. 11(3): 117–125.
- American Cancer Society Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics
- Kujubu, D. and Aboseif, S. (2007). Evaluation of Nocturia in the Elderly. Perm J. 11(1): 37 - 39.
- Roehrborn, J Urology 2013
- Roehrborn, Can J Urol 2017
- Trinchieri, M., Perletti, G., Magri, V., et al. (2021) Urinary side effects of psychotropic drugs: A systematic review and metanalysis. Neurourol Urodyn. 40(6): 1333 - 1348.
- Wallace, R. (2023) 11 Foods to Avoid if You Have Overactive Bladder (OAB). Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/11-foods-to-avoid-if-you-have-oab
- Meissner, M. (2023) 6 tips for easing stress and anxiety from overactive bladder. MedicalNewsToday. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/tips-for-easing-stress-and-anxiety-from-overactive-bladder
- US Census Bureau international database worldwide population estimates for 2022.
- Shore, Can J Urol 2014