- About your privacy
- Explore Methods
- What is “frequent” urination?
- What causes frequent urination in women?
- When should I see a doctor about my frequent urination?
- How do I stop frequent urination?
- What are the next steps?
- Tips, Tricks, and Exercises to Control Your Bladder
- A Symptom of a UTI: Urinary Urgency
- Help UTI Symptoms
- 1. Distract Yourself By Making Mental Lists
- 2. Or, Just Keep It Old School
- 3. Don’t Act Frozen, Elsa
- 4. Keep The Pressure Off Of Your Bladder
- 5. Nature Sounds Are a No-No
- 6. Don’t Focus On The Dam Breaking
- 7. But Have Some Back Up If The Dam Does Break
- 8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up…Or Your Bladder
- 9. Just Go If You Have To
About your privacy
Do you get up several times each night, causing lack of energy and poor memory? As a women’s health physical therapist who treats patients with these conditions, I know how life-altering it is to suffer from urinary frequency or urge incontinence.
I teach urge suppression techniques, which can actually make that urge feeling disappear without even using the bathroom. Whereas relaxing (letting go of) the pelvic floor muscles makes urination start, the reverse is also true. Strong pelvic floor muscle contractions (squeezing) stop the bladder from contracting, making the urge go away.
Since the brain is part of the problem, it also needs to be part of the solution. Mind distraction techniques allow you to stop thinking of going to the bathroom—mind over bladder. Here is the amazingly effective, step-by-step recipe to urinate less often, day and night:
- Stay still by sitting or standing. Do not move or race to the bathroom. This will only make the bladder contract harder and make the pelvic floor exercises less effective, causing leakage.
- Do six strong pelvic floor muscle contractions, holding for two seconds each. It may take a few weeks of exercise to get your pelvic floor strong enough to stop your bladder from contracting.
- Do not think about the bathroom. This defeats the purpose, because the brain is too vulnerable to the power of suggestion. Focus on something other than going to the bathroom, such as a detailed “to-do” list. A categorical topic (such as menu planning for your next meal) that can be used repeatedly is ideal. At night, a rote prayer, memorized song, or counting backwards works best, in order to lull you back to sleep.
- Take two deep breaths with long exhalations to send a relaxation response to your overactive bladder.
- Repeat all of the above steps, if necessary, to make the urge fully disappear.
- Then, you have two choices. Walk quietly to the bathroom. Do not rush. Keep squeezing the pelvic floor muscles while walking slowly. Keep the mind focused on something other than going to the bathroom. Or choose to delay urinating.
- Use a daily voiding diary to gradually achieve longer and longer time periods between trips to the bathroom. Start with what is currently comfortable and increase by half-hour increments per week, until a normal three-to-four hour interval is achieved with zero nighttime voids.
Certain beverages (like caffeine, alcohol, and orange juice) irritate the bladder and make urgency worse. So does drinking too little, which causes dark concentrated urine that irritates the bladder more than clear urine would.
Most of my patients are extremely skeptical at first, but these urge suppression techniques do work. Try them today. Before long, you can shop without mapping every bathroom in town, because you’ll have better bladder behavior.
You just peed, yet you feel like you have to go back to the bathroom. No matter how many times you sit down on the toilet, you can’t shake that feeling. And when you do pee, it burns. We’ve all been there. Most likely, you have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A UTI most commonly refers to an infection of the bladder—the part of your body that holds your pee. UTIs are very common: Some experts estimate that half of sexually active women will have a UTI at least once in their lifetime and each year over 10 million people in the U.S. go to a health care provider for help with a UTI. Luckily, UTIs are usually easy to treat.
What causes a UTI?
A UTI happens when bacteria from the vagina or rectum get up into the bladder and cause an infection. Some bacteria are more likely to cause UTIs than others, but the most common culprit is the bacteria E. coli. UTIs related to sex can happen because bacteria gets rubbed across the opening of the urethra (the tube that lets your pee out of your bladder).
How do I know if I have a UTI?
Some of the most common symptoms of a UTI are burning or pain with urination, the feeling that you have to pee all the time, frequent urination, and occasionally blood in the urine. Sometimes a laboratory test called a urinalysis is done to check for white blood cells in the urine—these are your body’s natural response to an infection. When needed, your health care provider may send your urine to a lab to see if bacteria grow in it (known as a urine culture). FYI, if you have a penis it can be more complicated to figure out whether you have a UTI or something else.
What do I do if I have a UTI?
If you think you have a UTI, don’t panic. The treatment is easy and you can take some simple steps to prevent future UTIs. The first thing you should do if you have UTI-like symptoms is contact a health care provider—even if you’re not sure. An untreated UTI can spread from the bladder up the tubes that connect it your kidneys, and kidney infections are serious business. Just don’t go there.
Sometimes your provider may offer you treatment over the phone and sometimes your provider will want to see you in person. The usual UTI treatment is antibiotics for 3 to 7 days, depending on the type of antibiotic. Note: It’s important to take all the antibiotics you get, even if you start feeling better, to make sure the infection is completely gone.
Eff. My UTI is back.
If you have three or more UTIs in a year, your health care provider may tell you that you have “recurrent UTIs.” Recurrent UTIs are common. One study found that just over one in four women had a recurrent UTI within six months of their original infection. A few things increase the risk for recurrent UTIs, including having frequent sex, having a new partner, and using spermicide or a diaphragm. If you think spermicide or diaphragm use might be a factor for your recurrent UTIs, consider exploring other birth control options. It’s also possible that you may be more likely to get UTIs just based on your anatomy, like if your have a shorter distance between the urethra and the anus.
Can UTIs be prevented?
There is good news if you have recurrent UTIs: You can take some simple steps to help prevent them. These suggestions aren’t necessarily driven by science, but they do make common sense.
After going to the bathroom (number 1 or number 2), wipe from front to back.
Avoid douches and using soaps with fragrance down there.
Don’t hold it! Head to the restroom as soon as you have the urge to pee.
If you can, pee before and after sex. Wear cotton underwear.
Drink plenty of fluids to flush out bacteria—caffeinated and alcoholic beverages don’t count.
If the above steps don’t work, talk with your health care provider about other options. Your provider may recommend taking a very low dose of an antibiotic, a strategy known as prophylaxis. Some women take the antibiotic every day, and some take it only after having sex, also known as post-coital prophylaxis. Taking the antibiotic after sex is more likely to work if your UTIs are related to sex and not some other factor. Either way, we have lots of research showing that antibiotics are really good at preventing UTIs and can reduce recurrent infections by up to 95%.
What about cranberry juice? Probiotics?
While certainly not harmful, the science behind drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry tablets to prevent UTIs hasn’t clearly shown that it helps. Some studies suggest that probiotics might reduce the frequency of UTIs, but this hasn’t been proven. Like with cranberry juice, it doesn’t hurt to take a probiotic, but it might not help you avoid future UTIs either.
Onward and upward
A UTI is a drag, recurrent UTIs can be frustrating, and both are surprisingly common. The good news is your provider can help set you on a path to comfortable peeing. So grab your water bottle and call your health care provider to get rid of and prevent those pesky pee symptoms.
Valerie French, MD, MAS, completed a fellowship in family planning before joining the Ob/Gyn faculty at the University of Kansas. She loves working at a teaching hospital and sharing her passion for family planning with learners. Dr. French is interested in improving access to reproductive health services in under-served areas, as she herself had difficulty obtaining birth control in college.
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Maybe it’s the ninth inning of a Twins game during girls’ night out. Maybe you’re just about to fall asleep. And then, you’ve got to pee. Again.
Sometimes it feels like the urge to pee strikes at the worst moment, sending you to the bathroom when you’d rather be anywhere else. This happens to all women occasionally. But if it’s happening to you over and over, it may seem like your bladder controls you, rather than the other way around.
Frequent urination can affect you for many reasons. Below, we’ll review the most common causes, when to see a doctor and how to get help to stop frequent urination.
What is “frequent” urination?
Every woman goes on her own schedule, but generally, peeing 6–8 times every 24 hours is normal. More than that – including peeing a lot at night (more than once) – and you may have frequent urination.
While they’re often mentioned together, frequent urination isn’t the same as incontinence, which is involuntary urination that can result in leakage. But frequent urination can be just as inconvenient to your day-to-day life. Besides the disruption to your routines and activities, constant trips to the bathroom can also feel distressing, especially if you’re not sure of the cause.
Frequent urination may only be just that, or it may appear alongside other symptoms. Regardless, understanding why you have to pee so often is the first step toward getting relief. Often, customized treatment can help stop frequent urination and let you get back to life on your own schedule.
What causes frequent urination in women?
Habits, medical conditions and certain life circumstances can all cause you to spend too much time in the bathroom. Here are twelve common causes for frequent urination in women:
1. Too many fluids
If you’re continually hydrating, your body gets rid of what it’s not using, and this will naturally result in peeing more often. Your hydration needs will differ depending on your activity level and environment. But if you’re peeing frequently, you could simply be drinking more liquids than you require.
2. Alcohol, caffeine or other diuretics
A diuretic is something that makes you urinate more frequently than normal. You’re probably familiar with common diuretics like alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) and caffeine (coffee, tea or pop). Artificial sweeteners can also act as diuretics. So can acidic foods and drinks, like those that contain citrus fruits or tomatoes. If you consume any of these regularly, you’ll likely have more frequent trips to the bathroom. In addition, some medications used to treat other conditions, like high blood pressure, can have diuretic side effects.
3. A urinary tract infection (UTI)
Most women have at least one urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. UTIs happen when bacteria or something else infects parts of your urinary system, which includes your bladder, urethra and kidneys. Besides frequent urination, signs of a UTI include a burning feeling when you pee, discolored urine and constantly feeling like you have to pee (even after peeing). You may also feel pressure or discomfort in your back or around your pelvis. Fever is another symptom of a UTI.
With vaginitis, your vagina or vulva becomes inflamed and sore. There are several reasons for this common condition – in most cases, some sort of infection is the cause. Along with genital pain and discomfort, frequent urination can be another telltale sign of vaginitis. You may also feel burning or itching when you pee. A vaginal discharge that’s white and thick, gray and fishy-smelling or yellowish-green and foamy could be present, too.
5. Overactive bladder (OAB)
Overactive bladder (OAB) is just what it sounds like: Your bladder empties more often than it needs to, which causes you to pee too much. It can affect anyone, but it’s more common among elderly people (though not a typical part of aging). There can be a variety of underlying causes, and sometimes no cause at all. Besides frequent urination, another common sign of OAB is a sudden, urgent need to pee immediately.
6. Interstitial cystitis (IC)
Interstitial cystitis (IC) is when the muscles in and around your bladder become irritated. The exact cause isn’t known, but the condition affects more women than men. Symptoms may come and go, and their intensity varies from person to person, but frequent urination is a common complaint.
With IC you also typically urinate small amounts and often feel like you still have to pee even after peeing. You may feel chronic pain or pressure in your pelvis and abdominal region, a symptom responsible for IC’s other name: painful bladder syndrome (PBS).
7. Bladder stones
Similar to kidney stones, bladder stones appear when naturally occurring minerals in your urine join together to form small, hard clumps. They tend to be more common in men, but they affect women, too. Besides having to pee often, you may experience burning when you urinate, along with discomfort in your abdominal region.
It’s a well-worn cliché, but it actually is very true that pregnant women generally need to pee more frequently than usual. An expanding uterus puts pressure on the bladder, which in turn causes the bladder to empty more often. This is a regular part of pregnancy. If you don’t have any other symptoms, you can expect your bathroom schedule to return to normal a few weeks after birth.
9. Stress and anxiety
Frequent urination can sometimes be a response to feelings of worry or nervousness. It’s not really clear why, but it may involve your body’s natural fight or flight reaction to stress. If you’re experiencing anxiety in your home life, work life, social life or anywhere else, finding ways to effectively manage stress may help decrease your urination frequency.
10. Decreased estrogen, like during menopause
You’ve probably heard of estrogen as the female sex hormone. But estrogen also plays a role in supporting the sides of your bladder. That means if your estrogen levels are low, like during menopause, you may experience more frequent (and more urgent) urination as your bladder feels squeezed. Reduced estrogen levels can also cause you to have to pee often at night.
11. Weakened pelvic floor muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles hold up many of the organs in your urinary system, including your bladder. If these muscles weaken, organs can slip slightly out of place and lead to more frequent urination. Vaginal childbirth is one way the pelvic floor muscles can become strained and start to lose their strength. Aging may also lead to pelvic floor muscle weakening. Many times, it can be hard to tell if weakened pelvic floor muscles are causing your frequent urination. A urogynecologist will be able to tell you whether this is the case.
Frequent urination can be a sign of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, particularly if you produce a lot of urine when you pee. With diabetes, your body can’t regulate sugar levels properly. As a result, there’s often excess sugar in your system which your body is trying to get rid of. This helps to explain why frequent urination is an early sign of the disorder. Other symptoms like tiredness, constant thirst or hunger, a dry mouth or tingling in your hands or feet often also appear.
When should I see a doctor about my frequent urination?
If you’re pretty sure that overhydration, too much caffeine or pregnancy aren’t behind your frequent urination – or if your need to go is interfering with your daily life – it’s definitely the right time to schedule a visit with an OB-GYN. Because a variety of things cause a frequent urge to pee, it’s important to talk to a doctor about your concerns and get an accurate diagnosis.
If your frequent urination is accompanied by other symptoms – painful urination, feeling like you still have to pee even after peeing, smelly or cloudy urine, bloody urine, abdominal pain, back pain, fever, chills, nausea, unusual vaginal discharge or anything else out of the ordinary – you’ll want to make an appointment or go to urgent care as soon as you can to get started on a treatment plan.
How do I stop frequent urination?
Your doctor will emphasize treatments that address your underlying frequent urination cause. The goal is always to improve your quality of life and work toward stopping frequent urination.
Basic remedies include lifestyle changes. A doctor may suggest the following:
- Avoiding drinking fluids before bed
- Cutting back on alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and acidic foods or beverages
- Doing pelvic floor exercises (like Kegels) to help build your pelvic health
- Trying bladder retraining techniques, such as peeing at fixed intervals that gradually increase
Your doctor may also prescribe medication to treat an underlying condition or to specifically address an overactive bladder.
What are the next steps?
No matter the reason, frequent urination doesn’t have to take over your life. Answers are only an appointment away.
Because once you know what’s causing your frequent urination, you’re that much closer to a peaceful night’s sleep, uninterrupted jog around the lake or worry-free time doing whatever you like – on your own terms.
Find a urogynecologist
Tips, Tricks, and Exercises to Control Your Bladder
Bladder training is a preventive method that helps you retrain your bladder to hold more urine. This is a mind-body approach that helps your brain and bladder learn to tolerate the presence of more urine before creating the urge that you have to go right away.
The steps to bladder training include:
- Keep a diary for three to seven days about when you go to the bathroom. Write down the time, how much urine comes out, and how much fluid you drink throughout the day. You can measure with a urine collector that fits over your toilet bowl.
- Review your journal and identify how your fluid intake stacks up to your urine output. Count how many times a day you go and how long you go between bathroom visits. If you’re peeing less than 1 1/2 to 2 cups every time you go or are going more than every 2 hours, there’s room for improvement.
- Try to get your bladder on a schedule. Commit to going once in the morning when you wake up and giving yourself enough time to fully empty your bladder. After this, try to go every two to three hours.
- Give yourself time when you go and try to get in a comfortable position. For example, hovering over the toilet seat to avoid touching it can create extra pressure on the bladder that keeps it from emptying fully. As a result, you may feel like you have to go again soon because you didn’t get all the urine out the first time.
- Avoid going out of convenience, such as when you see a bathroom. These quick, seemingly harmless trips may be ineffectively telling your bladder you need to urinate more often.
- Practice pelvic floor exercises like Kegel exercises throughout your day. This involves focusing on the muscles you use to stop your urine flow and contracting them for 5 to 10 seconds. Perform five repetitions. Kegels can strengthen your pelvic floor to help you hold urine longer.
- When the urge to go between your bathroom intervals hits, try to sit for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and focus on something other than your bladder. Make it your goal to reach at least five minutes of waiting. Over time, you can extend this to 10 or even 20 minutes.
- Continue to maintain your bathroom diary so you can chart your progress and identify times in your day that appear to be trouble zones.
Some people may try to cheat their bladder training by cutting down how much they drink in a day. You still need fluids to stay healthy and prevent dehydration. There are some ways that you can still hydrate without triggering your bladder. This includes stopping drinking anything about one to two hours before going to bed.
You can also time your water intake with your meals when you’re likely to go to the bathroom. For example, you can drink a glass or two of water about 30 minutes before you eat a meal. By the time you’re finished, you’ll likely need to go to the bathroom before returning to work, school, or other activities.
While bladder training can be helpful, it’s important to approach it with the understanding that you’ll likely have some setbacks. If you keep trying and don’t see improvement, speak to a doctor.
Winter is the time to spend curled up on the couch to watch movies by a fire, not to deal with UTI pain. If you’re one of the many women who have experienced a urinary tract infection, you may be familiar with the symptoms of a UTI that can include cloudy urine, pain in the lower abdomen, back pain and burning in the urethra.1 But what about that frustrating feeling of urinary urgency? The strong need to urinate is a common UTI symptom, so let’s learn about what is causing it, and what you can do to help relieve the symptom.
A Symptom of a UTI: Urinary Urgency
One of the most common UTI symptoms, is feeling a strong urge to urinate, even just after using the bathroom. On any normal day, your bladder tells your brain to pee about six to seven times a day.2 However, urinary tract infections will make you feel like you need to spend the rest of the day in the bathroom. The bladder and the brain have a very close relationship: when your bladder is half full, the stretch receptors in the walls of your bladder activate and send signals along the pelvic nerves to the spinal cord.3 The brain then sends a signal back to the detrusor muscle in the bladder to make it contract, and this contraction increases the pressure in the bladder—resulting in the urge to pass urine!3 When you have the burn and other symptoms of a urinary tract infection, the pain and pressure in your bladder continuously tells your brain that it needs to go, even if you’re bladder is empty.
Help UTI Symptoms
Whether you’ve had UTI symptoms before or not, it’s important to be prepared with a few handy tips so that you can get the proper treatment and the relief you’re looking for.
- See the Doctor
When you think you have a UTI, the first thing you need to do is prioritize a doctor’s or medical professional visit.4 He or she will confirm your UTI and determine if you need a prescription for antibiotics. You must follow the instructions to have the greatest chance of getting rid of your urinary tract infection.
- Drink water
One of the recommendations for UTIs includes drinking plenty of water because it helps flush the bacteria causing your UTI symptoms out of the urinary tract.5 Not sure how much to drink? Aim for half of your body weight in ounces of water, up to 80 ounces a day.5 For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should drink 70 ounces of water. Drinking more water will increase your strong need to urinate, but the good thing is that your pee stream will help push the bacteria from your urinary tract. Grab your water bottles, ladies!
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for UTI’s
Don’t suffer through urinary tract symptoms without phenazopyridine hydrochloride, the only ingredient that targets the source of UTI pain . Phenazopyridine hydrochloride is the active ingredient in AZO Urinary Pain Relief® Maximum Strength and is available over-the-counter to provide fast effective relief for pain, burning and irritation6 and is ideal to take on your way to the doctor’s office or if you need to wait for an appointment. It also controls the strong urge to urinate—bingo!
So if you find yourself with the strong urge to urinate, you may be noticing a UTI symptom. Thankfully, you now know what to do!
It’s amazing how some folks only go to the bathroom 4 or 6 times per day (which is considered healthy and normal) and then others find themselves running to the bathroom with an urge to pee every five minutes. By the way, I am others. And if you’re anything like me, then you’re tired of bathroom breaks cramping your style.
So what exactly can you do when it seems like your bladder is the boss of you? Well, urine in good hands. We’ve talked here about bladder training, which can be a big help. The key to bladder training is to *not* give into the urge to pee right away so you can gradually make it 2-4 hours between bathroom pit stops. So, to help you on your bladder training journey, here are 8 ways to suppress the urge to pee for 5 minutes to see if it passes. Mind over bladder and no more just-in-case peeing.
1. Distract Yourself By Making Mental Lists
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “it’s all in your head.” The urge to pee can sometimes be one of those things. If you don’t keep your mind occupied, then you’ll easily give in to that urge. Instead of focusing on having to go, try coming up with some different ways that you can distract yourself. For example, why not start thinking about your grocery list? Or what about that pesky to-do list that you keep pushing off? If you want to think of something more fun, then imagine the places you’d most like to visit. Another good option is investing in a fidget cube.
2. Or, Just Keep It Old School
If lists aren’t your style, fall back on those simple distractions strategies we all know. What helps some fall asleep may help you resist the urge to pee. Try counting backwards from 100 or mentally singing the alphabet song backwards. How your mind stays occupied is really your business, and it doesn’t have to be busy feeling or stressful. The point is that it needs to work for you specifically.
3. Don’t Act Frozen, Elsa
Are your legs crossed so tight that it’s starting to feel like you’re hitting a squat? Loosen up, gal! It’s easy to feel frozen when you’re occupied with the urge to pee. You may think that moving in any way will only make it worse, but that’s not the case. You just need to focus on moving in the right way.
4. Keep The Pressure Off Of Your Bladder
Now, you’re right if you think that sitting down is better for suppressing the urge to pee than standing up. But make sure you’re not putting unnecessary pressure on your bladder. Lean forward to take some of the pressure off and hopefully feel a bit of relief. You can also whip your pelvic floor muscles into shape by doing Kegel exercises in your spare time which will help sneaky leaks from sneaking out.
All of these strategies are about taking the pressure off of your bladder. If you combine these with taking the pressure off of your mind, then you’ll really be showing your bladder who’s boss.
5. Nature Sounds Are a No-No
For everything that you should do, there is something that you shouldn’t. If you have to go, then it’s definitely not the time to turn on the faucet, pour yourself a drink, or listen to a nature sounds CD with waterfalls flowing or thunderstorms blaring. The sound of running water and having to go just don’t mix. It’ll just make the urge to pee worse.
6. Don’t Focus On The Dam Breaking
It may be difficult, but try not to think about how bad the urge to pee is. The more you think about it the more the urge will strengthen. It’s just like when you’re working out. The closer you get to the last number, the harder it gets to finish.
7. But Have Some Back Up If The Dam Does Break
If you’re worried about being caught out and about, without a bathroom, and unable to suppress the urge to pee, make sure you grab some back up protection. And by that we mean disposable underwear and pads. Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear delivered straight to your door so you never run out.
8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up…Or Your Bladder
I know this is easier said than done, but don’t feel guilty, alone, or embarrassed. For one thing, you have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Leaks affect a lot of people, or else we wouldn’t be talking about it! For another, giving into shame will only make you more likely to hurry to the bathroom when you shouldn’t.
9. Just Go If You Have To
If the urge remains after 5 minutes, head to the restroom. Calmly, we might add. And if that happens, don’t feel as if you haven’t made any progress. This isn’t the kind of problem you’ll solve instantly. But by putting in the work, trust us: you’ll see results.
Want some back up protection while you fight those urges? Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear delivered right to your door. Start your trial today.
By Jessica Thomas, MPH