Frequent urination: The symptoms, signs & causes

There are many reasons why you may find yourself passing urine more frequently. One common explanation is if you are drinking over the recommended 1.5 litres (6-8 cups) of fluids a dayi, or if you have a high intake of caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and cola) or alcohol. An increased need to go to the toilet can occur at both day and night, or may only be noticeable at night (also known as nocturia).

Feeling a constant urge 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 or urinary incontinence. If it begins to interfere with your lifestyle or is seen alongside other symptoms such as pain, fever, red or dark brown urine, or loss of bladder control, you should consult your doctor.

How many times a day should I pee?

When it comes to going to the toilet, everyone can be 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 how much fluid and what types you have recently drunk. How often you go to the toilet depends on many factors like your age and if you’ve had children. For example, some women may experience post-natal incontinence as they have extra fluid to get rid of and a weakened bladder after giving birth.

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 drinksii. 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 a constant urge to urinate?

The need to frequently go to the toilet can be concerning. Drinking too much liquid in a short space of time causes your kidneys to produce large amounts of urine (polyuria), leading to frequent urges to go to the toilet.

Increased toilet visits can be explained by over-activity of the detrusor muscles which control your bladder, and the weakening or damaging of the muscles used to prevent urination. Another possible explanation is the use of diuretic medications (often used to treat high blood pressure) which work in the kidney to flush excess fluid from the body.

Poor bladder habits like going to the bathroom ‘just in case’ or not emptying your bladder completely in a rush can lead to poor bladder control and sometimes incontinence. There are ways you can train your bladder so you don’t have to go as often, such as monitoring fluid intake, bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, kegel exercises and pilates.

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)
• Urinary incontinence
• 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 which irritates the bladder wall
• Interstitial cystitis (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 or dysfunction and radiation therapy

You should consult a doctor if you’re worried or 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, or unusual discharge.

And if you do want more information on incontinence, TENA can offer the support you need.