Frequent urination is not just a nuisance. It greatly affects your quality of life.
Yet many men accept it as a natural part of getting older.
This is simply not true.
Going to the toilet more often than you are used to – whether at day or during the night – is a sign that something is wrong. And that something is your prostate.
What does frequent urination mean?
Frequent urination is a condition where you pass urine more often than usual. Some people who experience this feel a sudden, compelling urge to urinate.
At times, it comes along with bladder discomfort. It may also result from an overactive bladder. If you go more than eight times in 24 hours to urinate, then you are experiencing frequent urination.
Frequent urination is not the same as incontinence. That has to do with the involuntary leakage of urine.
Simply put, this occurs when a person urinates when they do not want to. It has something to do with control over the urinary sphincter, which is either absent or impaired.
Frequent urination can be divided into two types. The first type is linked to an increase in the total volume of urine (polyuria). The second one involves problems with the storage and emptying of urine. If frequent urination happens at night, it is referred to as “nocturia.”
What causes frequent urination?
Urination is a complex process involving different nerves, organs, and muscles, and many factors may cause frequent urination.
Under normal conditions, it can be caused by drinking too much fluid, especially those that contain caffeine or alcohol. It could also be just a habit, as some people usually urinate more often than others. Some drugs like diuretics can also cause it.
However, if frequent urination cannot be explained and if it happens all the time, then it could be a symptom of a serious condition. It might be caused by anxiety, stroke, diseases of the nervous system, and bladder dysfunction. For men, the most common causes are diabetes and an enlarged prostate.
An enlarged prostate is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As the prostate gets larger, it puts pressure on the urethra and blocks the normal flow of urine.
Frequent urination happens because the bladder has to contract more to push urine. Over time, it becomes overly sensitive and contracts even if it contains a small amount of urine.
Urinary Tract: What is it & how does it work?
The urinary tract is the drainage system of the body. Its main purpose is to remove urine, which is composed of extra fluid and wastes. All parts of the urinary tract work together for normal urination to occur.
The primary structures are the kidneys, which are two bean-shaped organs. Each kidney is about the size of a fist.
The kidneys filter about 100 to 150 liters of blood to produce about 1,000 to 2,000 ml of urine, which drains to the ureters. Each ureter is a thin tube of muscle that connects to the bladder.
The bladder is a hollow, muscular organ that is shaped like a balloon. It expands as urine collects from the ureters. The process of urination occurs from this organ in the pelvis. The bladder empties itself of urine through the urethra, located at its bottom.
The urinary tract’s function is vital to our health because it filters extra fluid and waste from the body. The amount of urine depends on many factors like the amount of liquid a person takes in and the amount of fluid lost through breathing and sweating.
What are the symptoms of frequent urination?
However, note that not all types of this condition need medical help, as it can sometimes be not that serious. For example, it would be expected for you to urinate more frequently if you drink too many fluids.
Doctors need to assess the symptoms to find out the possible cause. In some disease states, frequent urination may come with nocturia, daytime frequency of urination, urinary urgency, and incontinence.
People who have nocturia will need to urinate frequently during the night have to get up at night, and this affects the quality of their sleep.
Dribbling, or a weak, intermittent stream, may come along with frequent urination. It may also be linked with urgency or burning with urination. Some experience a compelling urge to urinate, along with some pain or discomfort in the bladder.
When is frequent urination a problem?
Frequent urination is a problem if it affects your quality of life. And it’s essential to know the cause so that you’ll know how it will be treated.
If your symptoms are due to a chronic condition like diabetes insipidus or diabetes mellitus, then you should take medications that lower blood sugar levels. You should also avoid some foods that increase blood sugar and monitor your intake of fluids.
Frequent urination can also be indicative of prostate problems such as an enlarged prostate. Men with this condition often experience an annoying trip to the bathroom every night.
This comes with trouble starting a stream of urine, leaking, or dribbling. Even though an enlarged prostate is a natural by-product of getting older, it still needs to be managed.
When should I see my Doctor?
The process and problems of urination are complex, and your Doctor needs to perform a thorough assessment to diagnose the problem of frequent urination accurately. He/she will ask questions to know more about the history of your symptoms and gather information from a physical exam.
Some important things to know include the following:
- When did it start?
- How does it compare with what you consider to be a normal urination pattern?
- Does it happen during the day, night, or both?
- Do you experience other symptoms?
- How much fluid do you drink? How much caffeine and alcohol do you consume?
- What medications are you taking?
Apart from asking about your family history and a physical exam, the doctor may also ask you to undergo some tests that help determine the cause of frequent urination.
These include a urine analysis, imaging tests like an ultrasound, neuro tests to rule out nerve disorders, and urodynamic tests to know how the urinary system stores and releases urine.
What are the risks of frequent urination?
Frequent urination may be ignored as a harmless condition. However, if you leave it untreated, it may lead to serious complications. If it comes with fever, abdominal or back pain and bloody or cloudy urine, then it might be linked with urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or kidney damage.
Men who do not treat their enlarged prostates are at risk of experiencing urine retention, which is a medical emergency.
This is a condition where urine is retained in the bladder, and the person is unable to pass it through the urinary tract.
The bladder can possibly tear if it stretches beyond its capacity. With this, urine gets back up into the upper urinary tract, causing a kidney infection, damage, and failure.
How do I stop/treat frequent urination?
It’s very vital to seek medical help if you have frequent urination to establish its cause. From there, you will know how this condition can be treated.
For example, if it is caused by diabetes, then the aim of treatment is to keep blood sugar to normal levels. If it is due to a urinary tract infection, then the treatment will include antibiotics and pain relievers.
If an enlarged prostate causes it, the doctor will generally prescribe alpha blockers and 5 alpha reductase inhibitors to treat its symptoms. These drugs relax the muscles of the urinary tract, promoting normal urine flow.
NOTE: While these drugs treat the symptoms, they do not address the cause. On top of that, they also have many nasty side effects which you can read about here.
Natural supplements like saw palmetto and beta-sitosterol bind to the prostate and help reduce its swelling. Antioxidants like quercetin and turmeric protect your prostate from injury and inflammation.
Can urinary frequency be prevented?
Yes, it can, depending on the underlying problem. If it is caused by diabetes, then you should avoid foods that increase blood sugar levels. You should also monitor your fluid intake, and make sure that you’re not drinking too much caffeine and alcohol.
For men with an enlarged prostate, regular exercise helps reduce PSA levels and stress-related inflammation. Whether you run, swim, or do yoga, exercise can help a lot.
Pelvic floor exercises such as Kegel exercises and bladder training are helpful if you have an overactive bladder. These strengthen pelvic floor muscles, urethra, and bladder control. The aim is to train the bladder to hold urine longer and urinate less often, and this is done gradually over two to three months.
Frequent urination and bladder cancer
While frequent urination is a problem with many different causes, did you know that it is also linked to a decreased risk of bladder cancer?
A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Cancer shows a link between frequent urination and a decreased risk of bladder cancer. Generally, humans have their longest interval between urination at night.
This causes carcinogens to remain in the bladder for a long time, potentially causing cancer. The study found that those who get up at night at least twice to urinate lower their risk of bladder cancer by 40% to 59%.
This only shows that it is important to regularly urinate to ensure to remove excess fluids and harmful products.
Is frequent urination a problem for you? Do you feel that going to the toilet more affects your quality of life? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, and I’ll get back to you asap!