Frequent urination

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

Is frequent urination normal?

A surprising number of men and women experience issues relating to frequent urination at least once in their lives. For some patients, frequent urination can be an early sign of a larger issue regarding an overactive bladder.

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According to the Cleveland Clinic, over 17 million people in the United States suffer from overactive bladder. One out of six of these patients is over 40 years old.

What many men and women don’t know is that sudden, frequent urination can actually be an early symptom for a urinary tract infection (UTI). It can be caused by bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract or a commonly found STD, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis. It’s estimated by the University of Maryland Medical Center, about 50% of women will experience at least one UTI in their lives, and between 30-40% of infections will recur within six months of the initial one.

While it can be a side effect of a wide range of health and medical issues, many people who experience frequent urination don’t consider it to be directly related to their sexual health. Since most sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) don’t have clear early symptom warning signs, they can go undetected for a length of time and ultimately do more damage to a person’s health.

If you’ve had unprotected sex recently, haven’t been tested recently, or had sex with a new partner, there is a chance that your frequent urination is an early symptom of an STD. The good news is that with today’s advances in modern medicine, STDs are easier to detect and treat - but you have to get tested first.

Can frequent urination be a symptom of an STD?

Yes. Getting tested regularly is the best way to stay up-to-date on your sexual health. If you are having unprotected sex or sex with a new partner, STD testing may be the right decision for you.

Many patients are unaware that frequent urination may actually be a symptom of chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable with antibiotics if detected and treated early. As long as it’s treated in the early stages, long-term risks associated with chlamydia and gonorrhea are minimal.

Untreated STDs can cause long term health problems for patients, so it’s important to get tested if you believe you’re at risk.

Before you can discuss treatment options with a doctor, you need to get tested.

What are common symptoms associated with frequent urination?

Depending on the specific condition that is causing your frequent urination, you may experience a range of urinary problems including:

  • Painful or uncomfortable urination
  • Stronger and more frequent urges to urinate than normal
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Unusual urine color or odor

More serious side effects that require medical attention can also be associated with frequent urination include:

  • Blood in your urine
  • Red or dark brown urine
  • Pain in your side, lower back, lower abdomen, or groin

I have those symptoms, now what?

If the above symptoms describe your current condition and you are sexually active and haven’t been tested recently, you should consider getting tested for STDs in addition to a urinalysis, a test that evaluates a sample of your urine. If you’re experiencing frequent urination, the most probable STDs that would cause this side effect are chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis.

What else could be causing my frequent urination?

Outside of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections, frequent urination can be a symptom of other medical conditions.

  • Pregnancy - during the early weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s growing uterus can place pressure on the bladder, which can lead to frequent urination.
  • Prostate problems - if a prostate is enlarged and pressing against the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body, this causes the flow of urine to be blocked or stopped. When this happens, the bladder does not empty completely with each urination, which can lead to more frequent urination.
  • Diabetes - in some cases, frequent urination can be an early sign of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that the body is trying to rid itself of an unused glucose (sugar) through the urine.
  • Interstitial cystitis - this medical condition is recognized by pain in the bladder and/or pelvic region of the body due to a non-specific type of inflammation in the bladder wall. Symptoms include frequent and urgent urination.
  • Diuretic use - if you take medication that is used to treat high blood pressure, there’s a possibility that the medication is causing your kidney to push excess fluid out of your body, which would cause frequent urination.
  • Stroke or neurological diseases - the damage of nerves that are associated with the bladder can lead to problems with how the bladder operates / functions.
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