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Common Causes of Frequent Urination

7 min read

By Patty Weasler, RN

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Gerald Morris

Frequent urination is when you need to pee more than usual. There are no hard and fast rules on how much is normal. But, when your need to urinate has increased to the point where it causes problems or pain, there’s clearly an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. For some people, the frequency in which they need to urinate causes stress and anxiety, especially if they are not near a bathroom.

There are many causes for frequent urination, which can be managed or cured with appropriate treatment from your doctor. In this article, we’ll discuss many of those causes and how they can be treated. Don’t let frequent urination interfere with your life. If your trips to the bathroom are causing problems address them right away to get back to the life you’ve always enjoyed.

Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common causes of frequent urination, especially in women. According to SQUMJ, 50- to 60-percent of women will experience a UTI at some point in their life. Women are more prone to UTIs, since their urethra is shorter compared to that in men. “During a UTI, an outside infection enters the body and causes inflammation (swelling) in your urinary system,” reports the Cleveland Clinic.

You are at a higher risk for developing a UTI if you do not drink enough fluids, hold your urine for extended periods of time, or wipe your bottom incorrectly. Most UTIs are caused by a bacterial infection and can be treated with an antibiotic. You will need to see your doctor to get the diagnosis and prescription. So don’t hesitate making that phone call if you believe you have a UTI.

Prostate Problems

The prostate is a small gland in men that produces semen. When the prostate enlarges due to infection or other causes, it can cause the need for frequent urination. One of the causes of an enlarged prostate is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a treatable condition with the help of your doctor.

A prostate infection (prostatitis) is generally caused by a treatable bacterial infection. This infection causes painful and frequent urination. It is more common in men under 50 years of age and can also cause cloudy urine, flu-like symptoms, and blood in the urine says the Mayo Clinic. If you think you have prostatitis or any other prostate problem contact your doctor. It may be uncomfortable to talk about your symptoms, but not treating this condition can lead to further issues.

Diabetes Insipidus

Diabetes insipidus (DI) is an uncommon condition that causes an imbalance of the fluid within the body. People with DI have extreme thirst and frequent urination. Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) is made and stored within the brain. If there is damage to that part of the brain or if the kidneys cannot respond properly to ADH, you can have increased urination says the Mayo Clinic.

The treatment of DI is typically focused on the cause of the problem. With several causes of DI, your doctor will need to perform an evaluation, and you will likely need additional testing. There are medications and diet changes that can be made to correct the fluid imbalances and help you lead the best life you can.

Nerve Problems

If you have suffered from a stroke or other neurologic disease that causes your nerves to not work properly, you may experience frequent urination. According to WebMD, “damage to nerves that supply the bladder can lead to problems with bladder function, including frequent and sudden urges to urinate.”

Spinal cord injuries often times lead to bladder problems, such as urinary retention or an overactive bladder. When the spinal cord is injured in certain spots, it can block the signal from the brain to the bladder, which causes the urinary changes. Anyone who has suffered from a spinal cord injury should work with specialists to help them learn how to manage this change so that they can lead as normal of a life as possible.


Most people who regularly drink coffee know they have to go to the bathroom a bit more often than their non-coffee drinking friends. But did you know that it’s because of the caffeine? Caffeine is a natural diuretic, meaning it’s a drug that increases the frequency of urination. It also can increase your urge to urinate if you consume excessive amounts. Three to four cups of coffee equals 400-to 450-mg of caffeine, which is considered excessive.

“Caffeine is thought to have a direct effect on the bladder smooth muscle. It may irritate the tissues of the bladder and potentially cause an involuntary bladder contraction. This can contribute to urge incontinence” reports St. Joseph Hospital. If you drink too much coffee start decreasing your intake by about a ½-cup per day to avoid side effects, such as headaches.


For women, vaginitis can be more than a bothersome condition, and it can lead to the need to urinate frequently. According to Health Partners, vaginitis is a condition when the vagina or vulva is painful and inflamed. It is generally caused by an infection or can happen during menopause from estrogen changes. You may experience pain when you urinate and have a thick white vaginal discharge that has a foul odor.

To treat vaginitis, your doctor will determine the cause (infection or something else) and then treat the underlying cause. If it is due to an infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Talking to your doctor about vaginitis may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to get treatment to prevent further complications.


Well, just about any pregnant woman can tell you that one of the symptoms that comes along with pregnancy is an increase in urinary frequency. “During pregnancy, the bladder gets squished as the baby takes up more and more space inside of your body. Frequent urination is a very common and normal symptom of pregnancy,” reports the Cleveland Clinic. Per the source, pregnant women will find that they typically experience urinary frequency more during the first and third trimesters.

Frequent urination is a normal “side effect” or pregnancy and nothing to be worried about. A few weeks after birth your body should return to its pre-pregnant urinary status. The Cleveland Clinic does mention that after childbirth women should try Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles which can help avoid bladder problems, such as urine leakage.

Diuretic Medication

Medications called diuretics (aka “water pills”) are designed to rid the body of excess fluid. This causes frequent urination which is the intended effect. Doctors prescribe diuretics for people with high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney dysfunction, and several other conditions. It’s important to take your prescriptions as your doctor instructs to help manage your condition.

The most common diuretics are furosemide, chlorothiazide, and hydrochlorothiazide. Your doctor will prescribe one or more based on your underlying condition and the intended amount of fluid that needs to be purged (diuresis). Diuretics can cause you to feel thirsty, and it’s OK to drink fluids as long as your doctor hasn’t asked you to restrict fluids.

Overactive Bladder Syndrome

Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is a very common cause of urinary frequency. Healthline reports from the “American Urological Association, an estimated 33 million Americans have an overactive bladder. This affects about 40-percent of all women in the United States.” The source continues to say that an overactive bladder tends to actually be a symptom of a condition or a number of symptoms that result in urinary frequency.

Some of the other symptoms that you may experience if you have an overactive bladder are a sudden urge to urinate, nocturia (the need to urinate two or more times per night), and the need to urinate eight or more times per day. If you have urinary changes make sure to report them to your doctor so that any underlying conditions can be addressed.


Undiagnosed or poorly managed diabetes can lead to frequent urination. The Cleveland Clinic tells us that “in diabetes, your body isn’t controlling the amount of sugar in your body, which the kidneys are responsible for cleaning. As the kidneys do overtime to filter the blood, there is extra fluid that needs to leave the body.” It’s like a cyclical pattern of increased urination, then you drink more to stay hydrated, and then you have increased urination.

Anyone who has diabetes should be under the careful watch of their doctor. It is a chronic condition that can have negative life-long effects. Frequent urination is a sign that your diabetes is not well controlled and that you may need to make changes to your medication.

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis is a bladder condition that is both painful and causes you to have the frequent need to urinate. It is caused by irritation of the muscles in and around your bladder. What causes the irritation isn’t always known, and the symptoms can vary for each person. According to Health Partners, those who suffer from interstitial cystitis “typically urinate small amounts and often feel like you still have to pee, even just after peeing.”

Another name for interstitial cystitis is painful bladder syndrome (PBS). This name was given due to the pain and pressure sufferers experience in their pelvis and lower abdomen.


Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the United States. Some level of anxiety is normal based on your life experiences and what is happening around you. But, when your anxiety interferes with your daily life it can become a medical diagnosis. People who have anxiety not only have mental manifestations of their condition but also have physical changes. One of these changes is frequent urination.

Urinary frequency from anxiety may be the result of your body’s fight or flight response reports Health Partners. If you are experiencing anxiety, it’s important to talk to your doctor. It is a highly treatable condition that can have serious side effects if left untreated.

MD, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine

Gerald Morris, MD is a family medicine/internal medicine physician with over 20 years expertise in the medical arena. Dr. Morris has spent time as a clinician, clinical research coordinator/manager, medical writer, and instructor. He is a proponent of patient education as a tool in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic medical conditions.

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