If you’re someone whose bladder always feels full, you might be wondering why you’re saddled with so many trips to the bathroom—and frustrated by the inconvenience. (Road trips are definitely not your friend.)
There’s a natural connection between hydration and urination, of course, but that’s only one factor that determines how many times you relieve your bladder each day.
One excuse you can rule out: a “tiny” bladder. While there’s some variation in size, most bladders generally hold about two cups of fluid, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D., board-certified urologic surgeon. So nope, your bladder isn’t special.
On average, people empty their bladders about six-to-eight times daily, and as they age, this may include an additional one-to-two times per night. If you’re going more than this, here are seven potential reasons why.
1. You’re Overdrinking
While there are general recommendations for daily water intake (about half your body weight in ounces), Elizabeth Kavaler, M.D., a board-certified urologist in New York City notes that it’s highly individual. Everything from weather, physiology, or activity level can play a role in how much water you actually need.
If you’re peeing more often than you would like, the first step is to gradually cut back on hydration over a few weeks. Aim for pale yellow urine. “Clear urine indicates that you’re probably drinking more than you need,” Kavaler says.
If you don’t notice a change after a month or so, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. They’ll do an initial workup and refer you to a urologist if needed, Brahmbhatt adds.
2. You’re Stressed
Your bladder works with your pelvic floor muscles, so you can pee efficiently. When you’re stressed or anxious, those muscles can tense up, says Kavaler. In turn, you won’t pee as efficiently; instead of fully emptying your bladder in one sitting, you’ll have to go multiple times to get rid of the same amount of fluid.
Working from home and spending most of the day in a chair doesn’t help, since sitting further tightens the muscles. To loosen them—get up. Walking regularly during the day stretches the inner thighs, hips, and lower back, in turn relaxing the pelvic floor and allowing a freer flow.
3. You’re On A Rest Day
When you exercise intensely or in the heat, you lose some of the water in your body to sweat. The result: You’ll typically pee less on days you train hard, even if you’re hydrating properly, Brahmbhatt says.
It makes sense, then, that you might pee more on sweat-free days. Take an intuitive approach—sipping only when you’re thirsty—and you’ll likely take fewer trips to the bathroom on your days off.
4. You Have Diabetes
If you’re diabetic, your kidneys are forced to process all the extra glucose in your blood, Brahmbhatt says. But these organs don’t work like magic. Sometimes there’s too much sugar for them to handle. When that’s the case, the excess sugar gets pulled into your urine, taking fluids from nearby tissues along with it. This process can leave you dehydrated and with more urine than normal.
5. You’re Pregnant
The main reason women may pee more while pregnant is because blood volume increases during those nine months, Kavaler says. The extra circulation lends to more fluid ending up in the kidneys. On top of that, pregnant women are getting rid of their own waste and the fetus’s. (Think of it as peeing for two.)
Plus, there’s the matter of the growing womb, which takes up more and more space and limits the amount of urine that the bladder can hold.
6. You Have An Enlarged Prostate
The urethra connects the bladder to the outside world. In women, it’s that simple. But in men, the tube goes through the prostate, which expands with age. As it expands, it can put undue pressure on the bladder and urethra. The bladder responds by becoming overactive and sensitive to even small amounts of urine, making you feel like you have to go even when your tank is relatively empty, explains Brahmbhatt.
This is typically an issue in men over the age of 50, Brahmbhatt says. Still, strictures (scarring in the urethra because of past trauma in the area) and chronic prostatitis (infection or inflammation of the gland) can have similar side effects in younger guys.
7. You Smoke
Smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer, Brahmbhatt says. How? Your body processes the chemicals in the smoke and gets rid of some of them through your urine, which can damage the lining in the bladder.
Frequency is one symptom, along with blood in the urine and a burning sensation when you pee. If you smoke and you know these side effects all too well, schedule an appointment with your doctor—and try your best to quit the habit.
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