Prone To Frequent Urination? Here’s How to Stem the Flow

Frequent urination can disturb your daily routine and disrupt your sleep cycle. Learn what causes frequent urination and how to control it.

Woman standing in front of a toilet bowl

When frequent urination happens regularly, it can disrupt learning, work, and even a good night’s sleep. The problem is more common than you think. According to a study, more than half of Malaysian adults have frequent urination at night – a condition called nocturia.

Unfortunately, only around 25% seek treatment. Let’s look at what causes frequent urination and how to manage it effectively.

Causes of Frequent Urination

Pregnant woman with pain or frequent urination in late pregnancy
Frequent urination is a common symptom in pregnancy due to a heavy uterus pressing on the bladder.

Frequent urination is common in pregnant ladies, middle- or old-aged adults, and persons with an enlarged prostate. Studies have found a strong association between frequent urination at night and diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseasesleep disorders, and mental health.

Common factors

The causes or related factors of frequent urination include: 

  • Inflammatory-related conditions (accompanied by a sense of urgency to urinate and pain during urination): cystitis, tuberculous cystitis, prostatitis, UTI, urethritis, pyelonephritis, vulvitis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 
  • Non-inflammatory conditions: diabetes, urinary tract stones, a tumour or mass in the pelvic area, bladder tumour, bladder stones, pregnancy 
  • Neurogenic frequent micturition, which usually occurs during the day, just before falling asleep, or when a person is feeling stressed. Sense of urgency to urinate and pain during urination may accompany this condition. 

Excessive consumption of water, alcohol or caffeine also contributes to this condition. Furthermore, certain medicines such as those used to treat high blood pressure or diuretics as well as radiotherapy may cause frequent urination. 

Eastern medicine perspective

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) attributes frequent urination to kidney deficiency wherein the kidney cannot regulate the body’s fluid and draw out urine. The symptoms of frequent urination may be accompanied by the urge to urinate, lower back pain, fear of cold or heat, thirst, and fatigue.  

Men may also have symptoms such as involuntary or premature ejaculation. Age and excessive sexual intercourse can also increase the risk of kidney deficiency.

“As we get older, our kidney qi (vital life energy) gradually depletes, causing kidney deficiency symptoms to start emerging,” adds TCM Physician Ho Li Ying. “People who overwork, stay up late, or have irregular routines are also prone to depleting kidney qi and essence. Excessive sexual intercourse can also contribute to this condition.”

How to Manage Frequent Urination

A group of people getting together and drinking coffee
Limit your consumption of coffee, tea, and other beverages in the evening to reduce frequent urination at night.

While frequent urination is a common complaint, people rarely seek any treatment for it. Most view it as a normal part of ageing, while many are unaware that it can be treated. First, try to understand why you are having frequent urination. Very often, you can resolve the issue with lifestyle changes and herbal remedies.

1. Lifestyle changes

Try and avoid drinking fluids in the evenings. Do not exceed six to eight glasses of water in a day if your symptoms are bothersome. Also, limit the amount of coffee, tea, or alcohol you consume, particularly in the evenings.

2. Kegel exercises

Doctors frequently recommend Kegel exercises for women after childbirth to strengthen the pelvic muscles and prevent urine leakage. The exercise involves lifting and holding the pelvic floor and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Here are three easy steps to follow: 

  1. Pretend you are trying to stop the urine flow and contract the muscles in your pelvis.  
  2. Hold for three seconds and then relax for three seconds.  
  3. Repeat this ten times in a row. You can increase this number as you get comfortable with the steps.  

Aim to do these sets at least twice or thrice a day. You can do kegel exercises anywhere and anytime; you need not set aside time to do it. As an added benefit– it also helps to improve orgasms!

3. Diet

According to Physician Ho, you can try consuming hearty soups made from black beans, black sesame seeds, eucommia, rehmannia, goji berry, glossy privet, and yam to help improve symptoms of frequent urination. Warm teas made from either of the following herbs: goji berry, ginseng, glossy privet, raspberry, and mulberry can also ease the symptoms. However, don’t overdo it and keep an eye on the total consumption of fluids.

4. TCM treatments

Physician Ho Li Ying recommends Liu Wei Di Huang pills to nourish kidney yin (passive energy) and help patients with heat tolerance. For individuals with cold tolerance, herbs such as Cortex Eucommia Ulmoides, Radix Morinda Officinalis, Radix Codonopsis Pilosula, Fructus Ziziphus Jujuba, Radix Rehmannia Glutinosa, Radix Astragalus Membranaceus, Radix Angelica Sinensis, Radix Panax Ginseng are often used to help replenish yang (active energy) and nourish the kidney. 

Other herbs such as cordyceps also help tonify the kidney qi. In addition, Ning Shen Pills can invigorate qi and nourish blood, and is useful for the relief of fatigue, excessive urination, and night perspiration. Acupuncture and moxibustion are also effective in controlling the frequency of urination.

5. Western medicine

Western medication is another treatment option to consider. However, desmopressin is the only medicine currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for frequent urination at night. It is available as a nasal spray or oral tablet and should be administered about half an hour before sleeping. Based on trial results released in 2017, desmopressin showed satisfactory results, especially in elderly patients, who were able to reduce their number of night-time urinations.

However, desmopressin may interfere with other medications you are taking. Be sure to inform your doctor of all your prescriptions. It may also reduce the sodium levels in the blood, so it’s important to monitor blood electrolyte levels and watch out for symptoms like headache, confusion, loss of energy, or drowsiness.

Besides medication, addressing other conditions causing excessive urination, such as enlarged prostate gland and uncontrolled diabetes, can also help manage frequent urination.

Causes of frequent urination vary widely from excessive water or coffee intake to severe ailments. If you need to pee more frequently than usual, have a fever, back pain, blood in the urine, or discharge from the vagina or penis, consult your healthcare provider immediately.

References

  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2019. Urination: Frequent urination [online] 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Kegel Exercises (pelvic Floor Exercises) [online]  [Accessed 10 December 2021] 
  3. BMC Urology.2021. Prevalence of nocturia among community-dwelling adults: a population-based study in Malaysia. [online]  [Accessed 11 December 2021]  
  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 2017. FDA approves first treatment for frequent urination at night due to overproduction of urine. [online]  [Accessed 24 December 2021]  

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