Frequent urination, or urinary frequency, means having the urge to pass urine often. It is often the result of drinking too much fluid but can indicate conditions such as urethritis or urinary tract infections.
Urinating is how the body removes waste fluids. Urine –– which contains water, uric acid, urea, and toxins –– stays in the bladder until it reaches a point of fullness. At this point, a person expels it from the body.
Most people urinate 6–7 times per day. Frequent urination, or urinary frequency, is when a person needs to urinate more than 7 times in 24 hours if they have consumed about 2 liters of fluid across that day.
Many people live with frequent urination. Although there is often a simple explanation for an individual’s urinary frequency, it can sometimes indicate a more serious condition. Early identification of the problem can lead to timely treatment, preventing possible complications.
Read more to learn about possible causes of frequent urination, its symptoms, and when to contact a doctor.
Urination is a complex process involving various body systems. This means several factors things can cause issues with this bodily process.
Lifestyle causes include drinking a lot of fluids, especially those containing caffeine or alcohol. At night, this can interrupt the sleep cycle with urges to urinate, which doctors call nocturia.
However, frequent urination can also indicate an underlying problem. Some of these may include kidney or ureter problems, urinary bladder problems, diabetes, and prostate gland problems.
Other causes or related factors can include:
The primary symptom of frequent urination is needing to urinate more often without an increase in urine output. At this point, the urinary frequency may negatively affect a person’s quality of life.
Depending on the underlying cause, people with frequent urination may also experience:
- dribbling after urinating
- abdominal pain
- urinary incontinence
- nocturia, or frequent urination at night
- painful urination
If frequent urination affects a person’s quality of life, they may wish to contact a doctor.
People with frequent urination could experience other symptoms that may need further attention. These
- pain or discomfort while urinating
- blood in the urine
- loss of bladder control, or urinary incontinence
- an increase in urination urgency
- difficulty urinating despite the urge
- pain in the lower abdomen
- increased thirst
- nauseau, vomiting, or both
- vaginal or penile discharge
Frequent urination can also suggest an underlying condition, such as a kidney infection. Without treatment, this can permanently damage the kidneys. However, prompt treatment can resolve the infection and help prevent any complications.
A doctor will likely ask a person about their medical history, frequency of urination, and other symptoms.
They may also ask about:
- the pattern of frequent urination, for example when it started, how things have changed, and what time of day it occurs
- current medications
- how much fluid a person consumes
- any changes in the color, smell, or consistency of the urine
- how much caffeine and alcohol the individual consumes and whether this has recently changed
A healthcare professional may also perform a physical exam and order tests. These include:
- a urine analysis
- an ultrasound
- an X-ray or CT scan of the abdomen and pelvic area
- neurological tests
- STI tests
- blood tests
Urodynamic tests check how well the bladder can hold and release urine. They also examine the function of the urethra.
Simple observations include:
- recording the time it takes to produce a urinary stream
- noting the amount of urine a person’s body produces
- gauging the ability to stop urinating midstream
To obtain precise measurements, a health professional may use:
- imaging equipment to observe the bladder filling and emptying
- monitors to measure pressure inside the bladder
- sensors to record muscle and nerve activity
An individual may have to change their fluid intake or stop taking certain medications before the test. They may also need to arrive at the clinic with a full bladder.
Treatment options will depend on the underlying cause of a person’s frequent urination.
For example, if an individual has a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, doctors will devise a plan to manage their blood sugar levels. And if people have a kidney infection, the typical course of treatment is antibiotics and painkillers.
Additionally, individuals with a diagnosis of an overactive bladder may receive bladder control training, anticholinergic drugs, and other interventions.
If a person requires them, a doctor will prescribe and monitor medications. Training in behavioral techniques may also help.
Bladder training and exercises
Other treatments address frequent urination rather than an underlying cause. These include the below.
- Kegel exercises: These regular daily exercises, which people often perform during pregnancy, can strengthen the muscles of the pelvis and urethra and support the bladder. For best results, perform Kegel exercises 10–20 times per set, three times a day, for at least 4–8 weeks.
- Biofeedback therapy: A person combines this treatment with Kegel exercises to enable them to become more aware of how their body functions. This increased awareness can help them improve the control of their pelvic muscles.
- Bladder training: This involves training the bladder to hold urine longer.
- Monitoring fluid intake: This may reveal that drinking a lot at certain times is the main cause of frequent urination.
Consuming a balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle can help moderate a person’s urine output.
This may mean limiting alcohol and caffeine intake and cutting out foods that can irritate the bladder or act as a diuretic, such as chocolate, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners.
Frequent urination is a common issue. Typically, a person urinates 6–7 times per day.
People with urinary frequency may experience other symptoms, such as dribbling, urgency, and abdominal pain. If they experience other symptoms –– or the condition affects their quality of life –– they can contact a doctor.
A healthcare professional can diagnose any underlying health conditions and prescribe an appropriate treatment.