So suddenly, it seems like you need to pee all the time. There’s no regulation amount a person should pee, but if you’re outside of your normal realm for trips to the bathroom, it’s worth paying attention to what’s going on. That goes especially if it’s bothering you, and if you haven’t really changed anything you’re doing lately and your anxiety levels haven’t gone up (anxiety does affect when you pee).
If you’re hitting the bathroom every hour or so, your bladder might be trying to tell you something. Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., a urologist with Orlando Health, says if you’re otherwise healthy, peeing more frequently than eight times a day and more than once at night could be viewed as abnormal.
Yet, for the most part six to eight times is the sweet spot and in the normal range. It’s also normal to be able to hold in your urine for a reasonable amount of time—no urge to urinate coming on suddenly—unless you have just consumed a large amount of fluid, says Sunitha Posina, M.D., an NYC-area internist.
More From Men’s Health
If you’re needing to pee far more often than usual and your lifestyle or liquids consumption hasn’t changed, consider these potential causes of frequent urination.
You might have an overactive bladder.
If you constantly need to pee, and really can’t hold it in, know this—you’re not alone. In fact, overactive bladder (OAB) affects about 30 percent of men in the United States, says Kerem Bortecen MD, PhD of of NYC Surgical Associates. “While men at a younger age (18-29) can be affected, the prevalence sharply increases four fold among men older than age 60,” he explains. Men with prostate problems or neurologic diseases, such as stroke and multiple sclerosis are more prone to this condition as well, he says.
So what’s going on, exactly? When you suffer from OAB, you lack the ability to hold urine in. “You may experience ‘urge incontinence’ which is an uncontrollable loss or spillage of urine, too,” Dr. Posina adds. OAB might leave you tossing and turning, with frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
“People with OAB tend to wake up frequently at night to go the bathroom, and this frequent contraction of bladder muscles causes a sudden, strong need to urinate even when the bladder is not completely full,” says Dr. Bortecen.
You might have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
While UTIs are most often thought of as a female-oriented condition, men aren’t home free. Beyond the trouble of the UTI itself, the infection can lead to symptoms of an overactive bladder, says Dr. Brahmbatt.
Most men get bladder infections because they are not peeing as often as they should, but they can also arise from constipation, recent surgeries in the urinary tract, kidney stones, or having unprotected anal sex, he says. (Men with shorter urethras are more susceptible to this condition.)
“Because the anus has tons of bacteria, the main one being E.coli, if you are having unprotected sex, then these bugs can track up into the urethra and cause infections,” he says. “The infection irritates the bladder and basically angers the bladder wall, which makes you go more often.”
Unlike OAB, the symptoms of a UTI will be sudden and short-lived once they’re treated appropriately. Antibiotics can help clear up most urinary tract infections.
You might have interstitial cystitis.
Interstitial cystitis, also known as “painful bladder syndrome,” is a chronic condition that can cause frequent urination, as well as bladder pressure and pain, says Dr. Bortecen. While a UTI might be caused by an infection and can easily be treated with antibiotics, interstitial cystitis is a longer-term condition that is not as easily treatable.
“People with this condition feel urgency and tend to urinate more often, with smaller volumes of urine than most people,” says Dr. Bortecen. “The condition comes from an immune reaction to the bladder from an irritating substance in the urine that damages the bladder, causing the sensation of urgency, as well as bladder spasms.”
Unfortunately, diagnosing IC can be tricky, as it’s often undetected or misdiagnosed as something else. “Diagnosis and treatment of this condition are very similar to overactive bladder,” he says. However, since IC is thought to be an autoimmune condition, certain immunosuppressive medications, such as Cyclosporine, have been successfully used to treat it.
You might have diabetes.
Frequent urination is often an early symptom of diabetes, as the body is attempting to get rid of unused glucose through the urine, says Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., of NYC Surgical Associates.
Because diabetes causes excess sugar in the bloodstream, the kidneys are forced to take it in. They try to flush it out through urine, causing you to run to the bathroom. When you’re urinating so often, you’re losing fluids, forcing your body to reach for fluids from your tissues to compensate, which can lead to dehydration.
Because excessive thirst is common in people with diabetes to begin with, you might increase your water consumption, causing you to pee more. And if you’re peeing too often, you’re only exacerbating your dehydration levels. Thus, the cycle repeats itself. If any of this sounds familiar, get checked out.
You might have an enlarged prostate.
If you’re having trouble getting a steady stream going, it could possibly be linked to an underlying prostate condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate. At first, you might notice a “decreased urine stream, where your urine just doesn’t come out as forcefully, and that it just doesn’t hit the wall like it used to,” says Hollingsworth.
In fact, “it also may take longer to empty a full bladder after some time with experiencing an over-full bladder, and it actually can injure the muscle of the bladder wall, leading to increasingly more bladder distention and damage,” he says. When this condition reaches its more advanced stages, it can become difficult even to initiate urination, and this is bad news, as you have to pass urine more frequently as is, he says.
One clue to the cause being an enlarged prostate is when you pee most often. “In men, a problem with nocturia, or urination at night, is most commonly caused by an enlarged prostate,” says Alex Shteynshlyuger, MD, a board-certified urologist and director of urology at New York Urology Specialists in New York City. “This typically happens in men over age 45 to 50, but in some men, the symptoms may start earlier in their mid-30s.”
Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options if you get a confirmed diagnosis. These include alpha-blockers, antihistamines, and amitriptyline (an antidepressant). You can also try prostate artery embolization, a noninvasive procedure that can help shrink the enlarged prostate gland. But be warned: while it’s safe and effective, side effects can include blood in the urine, semen, or rectum, along with bladder pain, says Dr. Bortecen. Surgery may also be recommended.
Innovative treatment options can also be right for you. A procedure called Urolift uses implants to lift the prostate out of the way of urine flow. Rezum is a minimally invasive procedure that uses water vapor. Both have the benefit of a fast recovery, says Dr. Shteynshlyuger. “These treatments allow men to avoid sexual side effects, in particular ejaculation problems, that can occur as a side effect of medications or surgical treatment. For men with very large prostates, prostate enucleation offers the most effective treatment option.”
You could have a rare medical condition.
In rare cases, frequent urination can be a symptom of bladder cancer, says Dr. Brahmbhatt. The cancer can irritate your bladder, causing increased urination. “The only way to know for sure you don’t have cancer is to get yourself checked by a urologist, but bladder cancer is not common, so don’t freak out — you probably do not have it,” he says. It’s also worth noting that other symptoms, such as blood in the urine, commonly present with bladder cancer, so if you’re just peeing a lot and not experiencing any other symptoms, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
Finally, frequent urination can also be the byproduct of a stroke. “Sometimes when men have had strokes, this can lead to nerve damage within the nerves that go to the bladder. This can cause either going too much or having retention where you can not pee at all,” he says.
You might be dehydrated.
It might seem counterintuitive, but when your body is losing fluids, your kidneys can tend to feel pressure and an urge to go. Plus, if you’re rapidly trying to replace fluids because you’re dehydrated, you’re naturally going to need to pee more often, according to Cleveland Clinic. And if you add alcohol to the mix, you’re likely to have to go even more, as it’s a diuretic.
You’re anxious or stressed.
Have you found that you’re running to the bathroom more often as you prepare for a big work presentation, or perhaps before participating in an endurance event you’ve spent months training for? In this case your frequent peeing is likely due to nerves or stress. The solution isn’t to drink less water; it’s to simply know where the bathrooms are.
How to quit peeing (as much)
First of all, listen to your body. If you’re really noticing the urge on a constant basis, to the point where pee breaks are regularly interrupting your daily activities, seek medical attention. Or, “if the problem is minor in terms of quality of life but persists beyond a few weeks, it’s reasonable to schedule an appointment with a urologist to figure out what’s going on,” says Dr. Shteynshlyuger.
The good news? For many of these conditions, you can mitigate the symptoms with a few lifestyle tweaks tht don’t involve changing your fluid intake, says Dr. Bortecen. “Urologists recommend patients with overactive bladder keep a bladder diary to track trips to the bathroom and any urine leak,” he says. The Urology Care Foundation provides a free diary that you can use to document your symptoms, then take to the urologist.
Avoiding a few food and drink triggers, such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, soda, citrus fruit, tomatoes, chocolate, and spicy food, could also help. These triggers are highly acidic in nature, which can cause irritation to the bladder. (Here’s why your poop burns after eating spicy foods.)
To reduce frequent urination, men can also work on timed peeing. This means that you follow a daily bathroom schedule. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you go at set times during the day, says Dr. Posina.
You can also do Kegel exercises to decrease urination frequency. These aren’t just for women. They are typically done halfway through urination to stop or slow down the flow of urine. “Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor and relax the bladder,” says Dr. Bortecen.
Lastly, know that it shouldn’t be impossible to consume adequate fluids without constantly having to run to the bathroom. If you’re peeing so much and it’s unusual for you, get checked out so you can find a solution.
Emilia Benton is a Houston-based freelance writer and editor. In addition to Runner’s World, she has contributed health, fitness and wellness content to Women’s Health, SELF, Prevention, Healthline, and the Houston Chronicle, among other publications. She is also an 11-time marathoner, a USATF Level 1-certified running coach, and an avid traveler.
Lisa is an internationally established health writer whose credits include Good Housekeeping, Prevention, Oprah Daily, Woman’s Day, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Parade, Health, Self, Family Circle and Seventeen. She is the author of eight best-selling books, including The Essentials of Theater.