These Are The Most Common Reasons For Frequent Peeing

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
This article was originally published on April 12, 2016.

As normal as it is to pee, anxiety about passing the same coworkers several times per day, every day on your way to the bathroom can build up fast. Is there such a thing as peeing too much? Yes there is, says Raquel B. Dardik, MD, a gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. But usually, frequent peeing isn't a major cause for alarm. If you're concerned about how often you're feeling the need to go, the first thing to figure out is what "frequent" means for you, Dr. Dardik says: "Some people really do pee more often than others, but there's no specific quantity of how many times per hour or day is too much." Instead, she says a sudden change in your bathroom patterns is a more reliable sign that something is off. But even then, the urge to urinate is a surprisingly complex process, and it may just be that you've upped your water intake. Here, we cover a few of the possible reasons you have to pee so much — plus what to do about each. Constant Sipping
If you carry a water bottle with you everywhere out of habit (and you drink coffee, and you have a cocktail or two at happy hour), you might not realize just how often you're filling your tank. "One of the biggest culprits is actually a good, healthy habit: drinking water," says Dr. Dardik. "Young women have healthy kidneys that filter water very well." There's nothing wrong with constant sipping, but you do have to accept that frequent bathroom trips are the price. Think of it as your reminder to get up from your desk every once in awhile.

An Infection
What if you're dealing with that dreaded sudden increase in bathroom trips? The most likely culprit, especially among sexually active women in their teens and 20s, is a urinary tract infection (also called a bladder infection), Dr. Dardik explains. These usually come with other telltale signs, such as pain or burning during urination, so most women seek treatment fairly quickly. "But if you have a mild bladder infection," Dr. Dardik explains, "you might [only] feel like you have to go to the bathroom a lot more than you used to, and not quite realize that it's because bacteria are irritating the lining of your bladder." Luckily, mild or severe, these infections are usually easily treated with a round of antibiotics. You can also help prevent them by remembering to pee right after sex.

Overactive Bladder
Normally, when your bladder gets full, the muscles get stretched, and receptors in the muscle signal your brain that you need to pee. But in an overactive bladder, those receptors initiate the signal in response to the smallest stretch, even if your bladder is nowhere near full, Dr. Dardik explains. And it's extra frustrating because "a lot of times, you'll feel like you have to go that second," she adds. Researchers are still working out what, specifically, causes the bladder to react this way, and the confusion stems partly from the fact that the condition can be so individual. "For some people, it's an 'all the time' type of problem," says Dr. Dardik. "But for other people, it's a milder problem that gets exacerbated by other things, such as stress." If your doc thinks you might have overactive bladder, she may order tests to rule out other causes. If it turns out you do have it, she can prescribe treatments, including medications or behavioral changes such as monitoring your fluid intake and doing kegel exercises (a stronger pelvic floor seems to help), depending on the severity of your symptoms. If needed, you might be referred to a specialist.

One of the biggest culprits is a good, healthy habit: drinking water.

Ah, another thing your lovely hormones can do for you! The natural ebb and flow in your reproductive hormones may also affect your bladder. That could show up as a change in your bathroom habits around your period, as you head into menopause, or only when you're pregnant. Dr. Dardik says researchers still aren't sure why hormones do this, but it does seem to be the case for some women.
More Rare Causes
Less commonly, things such as fibroids (benign uterine tumors) may press on the bladder from the outside, causing you to feel like you have to pee. Most of the time, fibroids cause no symptoms and shrink on their own. But if you have one large enough to cause issues, treatment options include hormonal birth control pills to shrink it or surgery to remove it. Frequent urination can also be a symptom of other more serious conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis — which is why a constant need to pee shouldn't be ignored. (But again, these culprits are much less likely.)

What To Do
If you're concerned, Dr. Dardik suggests keeping a pee diary for two or three days. That'll help you pick up on patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed: Are you peeing between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. along with your second and third cups of coffee? Or does the issue go away completely during the night and on the weekends, when you're not around a stressful work situation? All of these clues can help pinpoint whether the issue is related to your bladder, a specific environment, or something else entirely. And that data can help your doctor immensely. Looking for these patterns is probably the first thing your doctor will ask you to do anyways, Dr. Dardik says. So coming into your appointment armed with that info will only help speed things along.

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