Your bladder really has some nerve.
Since you’re reading this article, we’re going to hazard a guess that at some point, you’ve asked yourself, “Seriously, why am I peeing so much?!” Getting to the bottom of why you’re peeing all the time is, shall we say, a pretty urgent matter. Call it a pressing question, both because it’s important to figure out ASAP and, wow, doesn’t it feel like someone is just shoving your bladder when you really have to go?
Wasting your precious time peeing way too much can feel like an annoying bodily betrayal, but it can also raise some red flags about your health. Before we dive into what might be causing you to pee a lot, we should first clear up what counts as peeing “too much,” medically speaking. It’s actually completely normal to need to pee between four and eight times a day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. If you’re in that ballpark, kudos to you and your bladder. If you’re hitting up the bathroom to pee more than that, read on for potential reasons you might be peeing all the time.
1. You’re drinking too much water.
Let’s start with the really intuitive and also super easy to fix cause of peeing all the time. What goes in must come out, right? The more liquids you drink, the more you’ll generally need to pee. So, if you’re going a lot, you should first take a look at how much water you’re taking in, Tanaka Dune, M.D., a urologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, tells SELF. “When you drink too much, your body will excrete what it does not need,” she says.
Your water needs are pretty individual, so you might need more or less than others depending on factors like your size, body type, and activity level. With that said, the Mayo Clinic recommends women have around 11.5 cups of fluids a day, including from water, other beverages, and food.
You can tell whether you’re getting as much fluid as you should through the colour of your pee. If it’s light yellow or clear, that means you’re drinking enough liquids to adequately dilute the pigment urochrome, which helps to give pee its characteristic color. That’s a sign that you’re doing a great job staying hydrated.
But if your pee is always crystal clear and you feel like you’re spending your life in the bathroom, you may be drinking too much water. This is rarely dangerous, the Mayo Clinic says, but easing up can help you curb how much time you’re spending on the toilet.
2. You’re accidentally loading up on diuretics.
Drinks like coffee, soda, and tea can act as diuretics, meaning they may boost your peeing frequency. Diuretics work by increasing the amount of salt and water that comes out of your kidneys, making you pee more in the process. Though beverages like coffee and tea can raise your overall water consumption (and help you make it through the day without your mood intact), lowering your intake might help you pee less frequently.
Certain medications can also act as diuretics. Some meds to treat high blood pressure contain diuretics, and some birth control pills like Yaz have drospirenone, a kind of progestin related to the diuretic spironolactone.
3. You have a urinary tract infection.
As if we could get away with not talking about this one! A urinary tract infection happens when bacteria, usually from your bowel, makes its way to your bladder, urethra (a duct connected to your urethra—this is where pee comes from), ureters (the tubes connecting your bladder and urethra), or kidneys, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). However, most UTIs happen in the bladder, the NIDDK says. In response to the infection, your bladder becomes inflamed and irritated, which can make it feel like you have to go 24/7 even if you don’t actually have much pee in your system. Having a UTI can also just suck incredibly hard overall and cause intense burning and pain when you do try to pee.
You can’t treat a UTI on your own, no matter what you’ve heard. You’ll need to talk to your doctor for antibiotics. Even though you may not be able to actually go in and see your doctor as easily right now due to the new coronavirus pandemic, you really should get in touch with a medical provider if you think you have a UTI. Don’t try to wait it out—a UTI can progress into a kidney infection when left untreated, which is typically immensely painful and can even be life-threatening.
4. You’re pregnant.
In the first trimester of pregnancy, your blood volume increases, so your kidneys have to work through excess fluid that winds up in your bladder, according to the Mayo Clinic. That can continue into the second trimester, then your body ups the ante in the third. To prepare for go-time, the baby starts to move down through your pelvis, putting more weight on your bladder, the Mayo Clinic says. Not only will this make you have to go pretty much all the time, but you might also start leaking pee when you do things like laugh, sneeze, or lift things. (This is known as urinary incontinence.)
If this is an issue for you, the Mayo Clinic suggests wearing panty liners to avoid soaking your underwear with urine. And if you’re concerned by the amount of leakage, talk to your doctor to make sure it isn’t amniotic fluid (this looks watery or pale yellow, the Mayo Clinic says, so it’s a good idea to have a medical professional make the distinction if you’re unsure).
5. You have uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths that can grow in and on your uterus, are the most common benign tumors in women of childbearing age, per the U.S. Library of Medicine. Sometimes these tumors make their unwanted presence known by forcing you to pee all the time. This usually happens when a fibroid becomes large and presses on your bladder, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Fibroids can also cause heavy bleeding, painful periods, pain during sex, complications during pregnancy and labor, and even problems getting pregnant (though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that this is rare).
If you’re experiencing symptoms you think are due to fibroids, try talking to your doctor. There’s a wealth of treatment options for the symptoms, from birth control to reduce pain and bleeding to a myomectomy (surgery to remove the fibroids) to a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus altogether) and more.
6. You have an overactive bladder.
Having an overactive bladder means you’re dealing with a sudden urge to pee that you can’t control. If you’re constantly asking yourself that “why am I peeing so much” question, this could definitely be your answer. According to the Mayo Clinic, as fluids build in your bladder, nerve signals from your bladder to your brain typically trigger your pelvic floor muscles and muscles of your urethra to relax. This allows your bladder to contract and push urine out. If you have overactive bladder, the muscles in the bladder involuntarily contract, even when it’s not full. “Some women even leak urine after this sudden urge,” Dr. Dune says.
Plenty of things can cause this to happen, including having a neurological disorder like a stroke, a bladder abnormality like a tumor, or excessive caffeine or alcohol intake, among others. The underlying cause determines the treatment, which can include medications to relax the bladder or even Botox injections to partially paralyze bladder muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic.
7. You have interstitial cystitis.
This condition is nicknamed “painful bladder syndrome” for a reason, Garrett Matsunaga, M.D., chief of urology at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, tells us. Interstitial cystitis essentially happens when your body's wires get crossed—instead of your pelvic nerves telling your brain you need to pee when your bladder is full, your brain receives that message more often than it should, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Along with a persistent need to pee even if you're releasing only small amounts, this condition can cause discomfort while your bladder fills up, pain in your pelvis or between your vagina and anus, and pain during sex. While interstitial cystitis isn't curable, there are ways to try to treat it, like with physical therapy to relieve pelvic pain, bladder training (it's precisely what it sounds like—you start strategically delaying urination until you're not going more frequently than normal), medications to relax the bladder and reduce discomfort, and more.
8. You’re eating and drinking things that irritate your bladder.
Your bladder can get irritated, just like you when you’re curled up in bed and realize, yup, you need to pee again. Coffee, alcohol, tea, carbonated beverages, spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomato-based products, and chocolate can all lead to bladder irritation, according to the Mayo Clinic, although this definitely doesn’t happen to everyone who eats or drinks these things.
“The thought is that these foods and drinks [can be] acidic, and that irritates the bladder wall,” Dr. Matsunaga says. “This does not happen to everyone.” People with a condition like overactive bladder or interstitial cystitis may be more likely to be affected, Dr. Matsunaga says.
9. You have a pelvic floor disorder.
This is an umbrella term for different disorders that result from having a weakened or injured pelvic floor, according to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that form an important sling-type structure to support the various organs in your pelvis, including your bladder and urethra. There are different kinds of pelvic floor disorders, the most common having to do with pelvic organ prolapse (when pelvic organs drop into the vagina), bowel control problems, and bladder control problems. Pelvic floor disorders that cause frequent urination can have different causes, like childbirth, which can damage the pelvic floor, or aging, which can cause bladder muscles to weaken.
If you suspect you have a pelvic floor disorder, your doctor can help you pinpoint what’s going on, along with the best course of treatment, which can include working with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor muscles or using a pessary, which is a device that goes in the vagina to help support pelvic structures, per the Cleveland Clinic.
10. You have diabetes.
Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can make you need to use the bathroom more often than other people. This happens because excess sugar can build up in your blood, which makes your kidneys work more to filter and absorb it, per the Mayo Clinic. When your kidneys can’t deal with this extra load, the sugar makes its way into your pee, along with fluids from your tissues—and that makes you need to go more often. Other diabetes symptoms include things like increased thirst, fatigue, vision changes, and frequent infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you suspect that you might have diabetes, talk to your primary care doctor. They can help you confirm a diagnosis and help you make a treatment plan if necessary.
11. You just happen to have a petite bladder.
So, fun fact: The average bladder can hold between 1.5 to 2 cups of fluid at a time, and small bladders hold less than that. If you have a smaller than usual bladder, it can make you feel like peeing all the time, Dr. Matsunaga says. While this is a real thing, it’s a less likely culprit behind frequent urination than other causes, he notes.
That said, if you think your bladder is interfering with your quality of life because it’s small, your doctor can do a test like a cystoscopy, which looks into your bladder with a camera. If you do indeed have a small bladder, they may be able to offer guidance on training your bladder so you can put off peeing for a bit even when you have to go.
If your bladder is constantly calling out for attention, it’s best to talk to a medical provider.
Sometimes scaling back on your fluid intake or laying off bladder-irritating food and drink is exactly what your body needs. But if you try lifestyle tweaks and are still constantly speed-walking to the bathroom, something else might be going on. Even though it’s tougher than usual to see a doctor in person right now, they’re still dedicated to your care. With a phone call or video appointment, you can get on the road to finally putting that “why am I peeing so much” question to bed.
This originally appeared on SELF US | Korin Miller