Frequent Urination

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions about Adults Questions about Kids Related Pages

Questions about Adults

Getting up all night to pee

Sept 2011

OK, this is embarrassing, but maybe someone out there has some good advice.

For as long as I can remember, I have had to wake up multiple times at night to go to the bathroom. Anywhere between 2-7 times, and as you can imagine, this is severely interfering with my sleep. Background: I am a woman in my mid-30s, have never been pregnant or given birth, am on medications but none of them are supposed to have this effect. I don't drink alcohol and drink very little caffeine. I don't drink much water before bedtime. I don't have to pee too much during the day - maybe a little more than the normal person but nothing pathological. But when I lie down to go to sleep, I often have to get up two or three times before I even fall asleep. Then I wake up several times during the night.

It's not just nervous bladder - I actually have quite a bit of urine. It's been going on way too long to be a bladder infection and I have none of the other symptoms. I havne't been tested for diabetes in a while (five years maybe) but I tested negative then and I have none of the symptoms of diabetes otherwise.

The only thing I can think of - someone told me that eating too much sugar can make you have to urinate more - your body wants to get rid of the glucose or something. Is this true? Could it be related to salt intake or anything?

I'm kind of at the end of my rope but I have individual health insurance and they would love for me to have some kind of condition that could make them kick me off insurance so I'm afraid to go to the doctor. (yes, they really would end my insurance coverage - it happens all the time when people on individual coverage get sick).

Any ideas? Herbal supplements? Diet changes? I don't know what to do!! anon, PLEASE!

I'm not a physician, but I get some of what you describe if I've been on my feet all day long, particularly when taking enough fluids (as people recommend) during the day, and when it's hotter out. It feels like all fluids are sagging to my ankles, and then when I put my feet up, it finally flows back to my middle where my kidneys take care of it or something. So yeah, if the first occasion of the day to put my feet up is at night, that's when I'll be going to the bathroom a lot. Was even worse when I was pregnant. Bad veins or something. I'm sure sugar and salt don't help but I have no particular guidance for you there. I'm looking forward to suggestions too. Putting my feet up if I can
You don't have sleep apnea, do you? I also had to get up 6-7 times a night to use the bathroom, but when I finally started to treat my sleep apnea, that problem was solved overnight. Now I don't even get up once. I think that it has to do with REM sleep. Good luck! lori
Hi, I too was getting up all night to pee. This is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. With sleep apnea you never get into a deep sleep which is when a hormone(?) is produced to control the bladder. As soon as I was treated, I slept through the night or at most get up once a night. I don't know how you treat this without doctors, but it may give you a lead. Good luck sleeping thru the night
I don't have suggestions about what could be causing your problem. But I do question your concern about getting kicked off your insurance. I pay for my own insurance through Kaiser and have for years. I understand your fear. But this sounds like a significant health issue. If you can't actually use your insurance in this case, what's the point of it? And check into whether the new federal laws will protect you from being booted from your insurance. time to see the doctor
This is often due to dependent edema (fluid collection) in your legs during the day due to gravity. Then at night when you're lying flat that fluid gets pulled back into circulation and peed out. So being careful of sodium/salt intake during the day can help to decrease how much fluid you hold onto. And it's actually better to drink even more water during the day to flush out the sodium. Also in the evening, try to put your feet up before bedtime to get them started on draining.

One other possibility is if you're slightly overweight or possibly have sleep apnea. These put more pressure on the bladder at night and also interfere with circulation at times so you can get rushes of urine to the bladder. Good luck! Lisa

You might consider getting a simple lab panel done. I had an issue with low thyroid and after getting on medication, my nightly trip to the bathroom ended. You have insurance for just this sort of thing so see your MD as you want to make sure it isn't something more serious. anon
Hi - what you describe has been the story of my life, although recently I found out that I was anemic and, believe it or not, taking iron has made the need to pee during the night a bit better. I'm not saying that I still don't have to get up, but not as frequently. Good luck. anon
My husband has this problem when he's feeling anxious. I'm always amazed how much he can pee and it only happens at night. Perhaps you're feeling anxious about having o get up? Wife of a pee guy
original poster here - some additional information: I have actually been to three doctors about this some years ago: one said ''If you were a man I'd say it was your prostate but since you're not I just don't know.'' One diagnosed it as ''nocturia'' and told me that meant ''urinating at night.'' No suggestions on treatment. The other just flat out said ''I don't know.'' and tested me for diabetes (negative). So I'm not really optimistic about going back to the doctor!

I am about 15 pounds overweight (and trying so hard to lose it but it's just not leaving!) - don't know if that can be a factor thanks for the suggestions

Feb 2011

My sister is suffering from an overactive or irritable bladder. She said it started after having her first child, 11 years ago. She now has four children. She had the last two by C section, the first two vaginally. The symptoms are that she feels the need to pee all the time and is not sleeping at night because she needs to get up so frequently. She has taken anti-biotics for a UTI but is still needing to go to the toilet very frequently. Her doctor recommended giving up caffiene and alcohol, which she is trying, and to try pelvic floor exercises. I wondered if anyone else out there has any other hints and tips on how to deal with this problem, it is really getting her down. Many thanks. Anon.

I started having the overactive bladder a couple of years ago. Doctor mentioned one hint of pushing on the bladder while still on the toilet, which I had already been doing. He mentioned the caffeine and alcohol triggers. Also, mentioned possible medication which I was hesitant to take, because I'm already on various medications, even though the doctor said it's usually well tolerated. When I went back to the doctor recently, I finally asked for and received the medication because the issue has really been bothering me during the day. I started with just a quarter of a tablet or so and it was helpful. Took it for a few days, and then I forgot. Maybe I'm imagining it but the problem seems to have disappeared. I still have to get up at night, but I'm no longer irritated during waking hours. Perhaps the short course of medication just gave the muscles a break? I have no explanation. In any case, I got results with just a small amount of the medication and I had no side effects. My recommendation is if the level of irritation is high, try the medications. Sixteen waking hours a day of ''that'' is too much. Anonymous
this might help: and it's funny, too
I just posted a long message which seems to have been lost.

To make it brief (and please tell your sister to contact me if she has questions or needs to talk to somebody who has been through what she is going through)...

I think your sister suffers from Interstitial Cystitis, a disease of the bladder lining. Tell her to avoid the scary blogs, go to for all of her information and to schedule some appointments with urologists who are familiar with IC - some of the older ones are not.

Please tell her there are all sorts of drugs out there that can help her condition. Dietary changes and intense stress reduction are also important. This is a manageable disease and there is help to be had. I was 25 when I was diagnosed and was in intense pain for 2 years. Now I am a mother of one and pregnant with another and off all the medications. The disease comes with flares and she is probably in a flare right now. With the right doctor and the right drugs there is relief! marianna

irritable bladder is a terrible condition. i'm assuming your sister had a complete work-up by a urologist or uro- gynecologist to make sure there's nothing else going on, like endometriosis, exotic stds, bladder tumor etc. some women go on low dose imipramine at night, or some other tricyclic like elavil. there's detrol and ditropan (get the long acting kind, fewer side effects). ib is sometimes associated w/ allergy, so a long acting antihistamine like hydroxizine might work. part of the issue is that ib gets you up 5,6,7 times a night just to pee a few teaspoons into the toilet, so not only are you frustrated, but you're exhausted and sleep deprived, which makes the irritability all the worse. could also try some otc anti-inflamatories, like 2 tabs of aleve, at night while she's waiting to get into the doctor. good luck. been there and it sucks
I am experiencing similar symptoms to your sister. It all started following my second C-Section 15 months ago. I have seen a physical therapist through Kaiser Walnut Creek who specializes in this type of thing (she's excellent), and an excellent female urologist as well. Basically, what I was told is that if physical therapy hasn't helped after a few sessions, you need to see a urologist. I just had a bladder study done (not a pleasant experience, catheters and all), but that was necessary to diagnose what was going on. I have been offered several levels of treatment (surgical, medication, or continued physical therapy with biofeedback). I am sticking with the physical therapy and dietary changes for now, but may need to try some of the other options if things don't improve or if they get worse over time. Your sister is welcome to contact me. Please request my contact info from the moderator. anon
She should see her gynecologist. There are many treatment options for overactive bladder - medications, biofeedback, the dietary changes you mentioned. No need to suffer unnecessarily
June 2007

Wondered if any other women are having the same problem. Often I feel as though I have not completely emptied my bladder after peeing. I will go, stand up, wait a minute and then have to go a little bit more. Occasionally this would happen before having two kids, now it is more frequent. Other times I feel as though I can't go for an hour without having to pee, this is after drinking one 8 oz glass of water. Seems a little excessive to have to pee so often. Anon

start with your gyn to make sure you don't have any structural problems (somthing compressing the bladder). after that you may need to see a urologist about interstitial cystitis. oh, and endometriosis can cause these kind of symptoms as well. anon
This is lack of pelvic floor tone and is very common after having kids. You do not have to settle for this. There are exercises and if you have Kaiser, get your primary doctor to refer you to Zelda in PT in Richmond. Otherwise, look for pelvic floor therapy in whatever coverage you have. Or look up Lizanne Pastore in San Francisco if you want to pay privately. I had several issues - is contra-indicated the word when the fix for one makes the other one worse? Anyway, the issues were bad and when it got down to just the one you have it was a very simple matter with 5-10 minutes twice a day for a couple of months. Feel free to ask the moderator for my e-mail and I can tell you some of them over the phone or e-mail. Anon

Questions about Kids

Frequent urination in 5 year old boy

July 2008

My almost 5 year old is peeing every 5-10 minutes. This started a few weeks ago when I noticed he was peeing every 1/2 hour or so. Since then the frequency has increased.I have reviewed similar post on this subject from 2004, but am looking for more feedback then that post got. We have taken him to the doctor. He does not have a urinary tract infection and this is not from diabetes. The doctor believes he has meatal stenosis. Which is a narrowing (stenosis) of the opening of the urethra at the external meatus. This constricts the opening through which urine flows out. The doctor has suggested a wait see approach and to do clear water baths to see if it goes away on it's own. If not,surgury is required. We love out doc and trust his advice. I would like to hear from other people with this experience. Did it go away? Was surgery successful? There are some articles saying that frequent urination can be psychological. Has anyone experienced this? Any feedback will be helpful. Thanks.

Our four year old son does the same thing, often peeing every ten minutes. After serious consideration of the issue, I've come to the conclusion that he's a stark raving lunatic. Like all other children of his age. It comes and goes on a weekly basis--sometimes he forgets that he needs to pee so much, and sometimes he moons around dramatically bemoaning his sensitive bladder and the fact that it prevents him from ever being able to leave the house. I've decided to treat the condition with benign neglect and gentle mockery, which seems to be working quite well. Good luck; and tell him not to flush every time-- there's a water crisis on!
Missed the original post but my 5 yo daughter had this recently. I researched it and apparently it is common in this age and is caused by mild anxiety. My daughter's was triggered by telling her I was going away for the weekend. It lasted on and off for months but reading your post I realized it had subsided! I'm hoping starting K soon doesn't bring it back. The only strategy I used was being as reassuring as possible and trying not to make a big deal out of it (hard to do when she was getting up 7 times in a row at bed time). this too shall pass

Frequent urination in 6-year-old

Feb 2008

About 2 weeks ago, my 6 1/2 year old daughter started urinating frequently, at least once an hour (and I hear it's about every 1/2 hour at school). Our pediatrician advised me not to worry, that some kids do this as a nervous habit. We've ruled out diabetes as a concern, as she's overall very healthy and we know that each trip results in very little pee. Any experience with this or ideas on what could be causing it? She's generally an anxious kid, otherwise there's no major stress or upheaval in our lives.
many trips to the bathroom

Hi -- my daughter started doing the same thing at a similar age. While I don't consider her an anxious child, she is an intense child and feels EVERYTHING acutely. You pediatrician is right -- it will go away, but it is disturbing while you are going through it, especially when we would be out and had to find every bathroom everywhere. After a period of time, when she had to go 20 or 30 minutes after the last trip, I would say, ''We will be home shortly; we're on our way.'' At first, she would panic and yell, ''I REALLY have to go!!'' and I would very calmly say, ''If you can't hold it, don't worry, honey, just do your best. There is no potty right here.'' I tried not to say it with anger or panic, just calm. She never had an accident, and this was after I was sure that this was just a habit. I honestly think that as soon as she felt any filling of her bladder, she perceived it as really having to go. She is 10 now, and just fine! Good luck, stay calm, and she will too. sign me Potty Smart
You are smart to notice the connection between anxiety and frequent peeing. My friend's son did this around age 5. The best thing to do is COMPLETELY IGNORE the peeing. Just stop saying anything about it. It will probably stop within a week or two. P.S. You can look it up online, there is even a name for it. Good luck! Anon
I would be worried about a urinary tract infection or pin worm. If you have ruled those out, I agree with the advice you've be given. Frequent urination can lead to a smaller bladder size. The bladder re-models over a period of time if it is only carrying a tiny capacity all the time. So I'd check into these other things and then if negative start behavior modification trying to go with timed voids no frequent than every 2 hours. Also, avoid bubble baths, make sure she is wiping front to back, etc. These are suggestions, I don't know your daughter and any more than you've mentioned in your e-mail. Good luck. Elaine L. Pico, MD, FAAP, FAAPM & R
When I get nervous I have to pee alot. Perhaps what you might want to consider is talking with her about her nervousness and encourage her and praise her when she is taking courageous things. Read some books on how to help her be less anxious. Also, ask yourselves if you are anxious people because she could pick up on your emotions and act them out. It sounds like just an opportunity to help your daughter to relax more. Nanny in the know
Check for diabetes. This is one of the first symptom.

Frequent urination in 4.5 y.o. boy

June 2004

my 4.5 y.o. son seems to pee constantly. He runs back and forth to the toilet sometimes 10 times in an hour. each time he pees only a little bit. Or he stands for a moment untill the pee finally comes out, only a couple drops. This seems to really frustrate him. He also does this when we are out, frequently needing to stop on walks and pee in the bushes. We are having his urine tested for diabetes and for a bladder infection, so I have two questions: 1. is there anything else medical we could be looking for? and 2. is this behavioral? Does anyone have experience with this, and if it is behavioral, do we just wait it out? Could he just be impatient and not want to wait untill all the pee comes out? though to me that suggests a lot of control if he can stop mid stream.... Any advice, medical or anecdotal, would be appreciated. Thanks! anon

Another problem that could perhaps cause behavior like that you describe is vesico-ureteral reflux, in which urine backs up from the bladder into the ureters and even the kidneys. My son had it diagnosed while he was still in utero. It's worth asking whether it is a possibility in your son's case, because a bad case, untreated, can cause permanent harm to the kidneys, or even destroy them both. Even if your son turns out to have a bladder infection, and especially if it recurs, you should ask about whether he might have reflux. It is a cause of urinary tract infections, especially in boys, in whom they are otherwise quite uncommon. anon
My daughter also went through a spell of frequent urination at about age 3.5. She tested negative! for a urinary tract infection. The doctor said that children sometimes get fixated on the need to pee often. He said that if you just think about going hard enough, it's difficult not to have to go. He predicted it would pass after a while and it did. I just didn't draw any attention to her behavior and made it easy for her to go outside as needed. It took a couple of months for the frequency to return to normal. Hope your situation is as simple! anon

6-year-old with nervous bladder

Since Kindergarten began my six year old has developed a nervous bladder. Physically he's fine.....we had his blood and urine tested and the doctors say eventually it will go away and that it's not that uncommon. So far it hasn't interferred too much with playdates although he's running in to pee every 15-20 minutes. The good news is that he sleeps right through the night...10 hours...without having to go. We're not making a deal of it however I'd like to know if others have gone through this and what we can do to encourage or help him. Thanks
our daughter has the same problem. seems to be an issue when she is anxious. our doctor advised us to let it run its course and it seems, once she is back in a comfortable place, it goes away. good luck.