Frequent Urination: Symptoms, Signs & Causes

There are many reasons why you may find yourself urinating more often. One common explanation is if you are drinking over the recommended 1.5 litres (6-8 cups) of fluid a dayi, or a high intake of caffeine (found in coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks) or alcohol consumption.

An increased urge  to urinate  can occur at both day and night, or may only be noticeable at night (also known as nocturia).

Feeling a constant need  to urinate can be annoying, but it should never be dismissed. Experiencing frequent urination for an extended period could be a sign of another issue, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), kidney disease, diabetes, some cancers or urinary incontinence.

You should consult your doctor when frequent urination:

  • Cannot be explained by your fluid intake.
  • Begins to interfere with your lifestyle.
  • Is seen alongside other symptoms such as pain, fever, red or dark brown urine, or loss of bladder control (incontinence).

How many times should you pee a day?

When it comes to going to the toilet, everyone is different. The NHS says it is normal to go to the toilet between four to eight times a day and once in the night1

Whatever your ‘normal’ is, you can still expect some variation, depending on the amount and types of fluid you have consumed. How often you go to the toilet depends on many factors like your age and medical history. 

The government recommends that you drink six to eight cups of fluids every day, which can include water, lower-fat milks as well as lower-sugar drinks. Tea and coffee also count, though these contain caffeine which has a diuretic effect (meaning you go to the toilet more).

If you think your ‘normal’ has changed for a prolonged period, your doctor or nurse may ask you to keep a bladder diary so they can learn more about your habits and identify any issues.

Why do I feel the frequent urge to urinate?

Feeling the urge to go to the toilet can be unsettling. Knowing how to describe these sensations is key to understanding why you feel the need to urinate, especially as some of the terminology is very similar.

Healthcare practitioners separate the term ‘urge’,  which describes the feeling of needing to urinate, from the term ‘urgency’,  which describes feeling that you need to pee desperately, otherwise you’ll have an accident (incontinence).

Feeling the urge to urinate is generally nothing to worry about. Urinating more often can occur due to changes in the amount or type of fluids consumed or as an effect of certain medications. One such medication would be Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, which help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. Diuretics are often used to treat high blood pressure and work in the kidney to flush excess fluid from the body. 

Feeling a sensation of urgency, however, is quite different. Urgency is a symptom of several conditions and diseases, and you should speak to a healthcare practitioner if you start to experience urgency (the feeling that you need to pee desperately).

How to stop frequent urination

Poor bladder habits like going to the bathroom ‘just in case’ or not emptying your bladder completely when you’re in a rush can lead to poor bladder control and sometimes . There are ways you can train and strengthen your bladder, so you don’t have to go as often:

What is frequent urination a sign of?

A change in the frequency of your toilet trips could be a sign or symptom of any of the following issues2:

  • Overactive bladder
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Early signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes as the body tries to rid itself of unused glucose through urine
  • Pregnancy (in women), as your growing uterus places pressure on the bladder
  • An enlarged prostate (in men) pressing against your urethra, blocking the flow of urine 
  • Interstitial cystitis / chronic Urinary Tract Infection (if paired with pain in the bladder and pelvic region)
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke or neurological diseases (if the nerves that supply the bladder are damaged)
  • Less common causes include bladder cancer and as a side effect of radiation therapy

You should consult a doctor if your increased toilet trips are coupled with other symptoms such as: 

  • Fever
  • Pain in your back or side
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Increased appetite or thirst
  • Fatigue 
  • Bloody or clouded urine
  • Unusual discharge

If you want more information on incontinence, TENA can offer the support you need. We offer information on the possible causes of urinary incontinence and also a wide range of incontinence products to allow you to live your life comfortably and protected.