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Care New England Wellness Center
CNE Wellness
Carne's Wellness Corner
Frequent urination: When is it a real problem?

Frequent UrinationMany trips to the bathroom to urinate may or may not be a serious problem - some guidelines say eight times a day, including once during the night, is normal.

Some dietary triggers - caffeine, alcohol, spicy or acidic foods, as well as artificial sweeteners – can make you go even more. Other times, frequent urination can be caused by a physical, neurological, or even psychological issue.

"Health and diet plans that call for drinking lots of water will naturally increase the volume of urine produced, and usually increase the frequency," says Charles Rardin, MD, a urogynecologist in the Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, Women & Infants Hospital. Being pregnant can also make you go more, because the enlarged uterus presses on the bladder, as can certain medications such as diuretics.

More serious problems

In other cases frequent urination can signal a problem, such as an urinary tract infection; cancer of the uterus, ovary, bladder, vagina, or urethra; diabetes; kidney infection or disease; a prostate problem; problems from previous surgeries (such as mesh or suture erosions); or anatomic problems (such as an outpouching of the urethra (called a diverticulum) or prolapse of the bladder (called a cystocele).

You should see a doctor right away if you notice blood in your urine or unexplained symptoms such as fever, side or back pain, vomiting, fatigue, or chills, or an increase in thirst or appetite.

Sometimes urinating frequently can be a sign of something very serious. For example, a kidney infection can permanently damage your kidneys and can even be fatal if not treated right away.

Getting help

If you notice that you're always on the lookout for restrooms in public areas, something called "bathroom mapping," it could be a sign that you have frequent urination.

"If you find yourself avoiding physical, social, or intimacy activities because of concern about frequent urination, that's usually a sign you should be evaluated and treated," Dr. Rardin says.

When frequent urination is a concern, first see your primary care physician. Low-risk treatments such as behavioral modifications, dietary changes, monitoring fluid intake, pelvic floor muscle ("kegel") exercises, or some medications may be helpful.

"If these treatments are not helpful, or if your primary care doctor is not comfortable addressing these issues, it may be time to consult with an urogynecologist or urologist," Dr. Rardin says.



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