Can you explain my urination problem?
June 18, 2015 12:41 PM   Subscribe

i have the urge to urinate 15-20 times in just a few hours. Can you help explain my problem?

I have the urge to urinate up to 20 times in a 3-4 hour time span, but not every day. (For example, over the past week, I had one day where I had the urge to urinate 10 times in 1 hour, I had the urge to urinate 15 times in 3 hours in another day, and in a third day, I went 6 times in 45 minutes.) I never know when this will happen, and it is making work difficult. This is been happening with increasing frequency over the past two years.

I've seen two urologists, and they were not able to provide an explanation. They did test to see if my bladder empties as it should, and that test result was normal.

Does anyone have any ideas? I'm desperate to figure this out!
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you had any tests/ treatment for a UTI? Also, diet soda makes me per like CRAZY, do you ever drink it?
posted by kate blank at 12:51 PM on June 18, 2015

Response by poster: I have been tested for a UTI, and I not have one.

No, I don't drink soda. I only drink water, and I don't drink enough of it.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 12:53 PM on June 18, 2015

Does this generally happen around the same time each month? A couple of days before my period I need to urinate much more frequently. It's pretty common; I think it's linked to whatever causes the uterus to cramp.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:54 PM on June 18, 2015

Ah, just saw your update.

If you don't drink enough fluids, I'd be wondering if it could be linked to some kind of kidney problem. Have you had your kidney function tested?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 12:55 PM on June 18, 2015

Did your urologists rule out overactive bladder?

Also -- this will sound peculiar -- some women have difficult distinguishing between sexual desire/arousal and an urge to urinate. If you are at a point in your menstrual cycle at which you normally are more orgasmic or more easily aroused, you may be misidentifying your urges.

Query: Is it only an urge or are you urinating each time and, if the latter, are you urinating much or just a bit?
posted by janey47 at 12:56 PM on June 18, 2015

Not to be "Debbie Downer," but did you get your A1C checked? One of the symptoms of diabetes is urinary frequency/urgency/etc.
posted by kuanes at 1:01 PM on June 18, 2015 [14 favorites]

This happened to me, and I ended up having a benign fibroid tumor causing enough pressure that it was pressing on my bladder. Maybe a trip to your gynecologist?
posted by Zosia Blue at 1:27 PM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I do not have a period due to a hysterectomy.

After the first few times, I urinate a small stream or a few drops.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 1:32 PM on June 18, 2015

This may not be universal, but I've found that when I'm busy and let myself get a little dehydrated I feel the urge a lot more often, and having just a bit of water will ramp it up too. So if I'm running around all day and stop off at the drinking fountain for a quick gulp, I'll feel like have to go very shortly after, and then again in short order, and it won't be much. But if I'm drinking water throughout the day I don't feel like I have to go as often, and it's a less urgent feeling despite the fact that my bladder is fuller.
posted by ghost phoneme at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

If your urethra gets irritated it feels like a UTI, but there is no infection.

Make sure you aren't wearing tight pants/underwear and try those over the counter numbing pills for UTIs (I think they are called AZO). Drink lots of water and give it several days.
posted by littlewater at 1:57 PM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did your doctor talk to you at all about bladder training? Sometimes anxiety or caffeine can make me feel like I need to go constantly when I don't actually but there's an urge that's there. Once medical issues have been ruled out you may want to look into bladder training (it's for incontinence but good for similar things) as well as making sure you're not irritating your urethra etc. Also, kegels!
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

What are you eating/drinking? I ask, because I experienced something similar to this - and, after visiting the urologist, was diagnosed with having a "sensitive bladder". My flow was fine. Ultrasound was clear. Blood work for everything under the sun came back fine. In other words, nothing could really be done about it.

Fast forward a few days, and I'm doing some random online reading, and I learn that cherries (and cherry juice) are known to be a diuretic. And I was using both juice, and whole cherries, in my breakfast smoothie most days. This, combined with coffee and some other bladder-irritating diuretics (naturally occurring) was basically causing my bladder to go into overdrive. It might be helpful to pick apart your diet a bit.

Now I'm super careful to stay hydrated, to avoid massive quantities of diuretics (sigh) or anything that will irritate my bladder, and things are much, much, much better.
posted by VioletU at 2:24 PM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

This can be caused by pelvic floor problems--tension in these muscles can mimic UTI symptoms very closely. Physical therapy can help a lot, but not all gynecologists are trained in identifying pelvic floor dysfunction (beyond looseness).
posted by cogitron at 3:15 PM on June 18, 2015

I had these exact symptoms and - if it is the same thing - it's easy to treat. My GP called it "nervous bladder" but essentially the bladder is irritated and starts calling false alarms. You need to soothe it and calm it down.

First, start drinking a lot of water, but also cranberry juice which will make your urine more alkaline and therefore less likely to irritate your already cranky bladder. I hate cranberry juice so I took a cranberry supplement and that seemed to work well. There are a variety on the market labelled "urinary tract support" so see what you have available. You'll need to take the maximum dose for at least the first week.

Avoid sugary foods (which promote bacterial growth) and caffeine (which is a diuretic), and perhaps take a probiotic to make sure your various flora are not out of whack and contributing to the problem.

I found that after a week, the symptoms have eased considerably and are gone in two. The hardest thing was to feel the urge to pee and then try to ignore it. You sort of have to retrain your bladder a bit so it stops giving false alarms.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:01 PM on June 18, 2015

Time to see a urologist. Ask about interstitial cystitis.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:27 PM on June 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

She said she saw two.
posted by grouse at 6:23 PM on June 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

If this persists, go see a gyno/urologist. For now, AZO, or a half teaspoon of baking soda in water, and tea made with marshmallow root powder (it's very soothing for delicate membranes like bladders) will calm the symptoms. 1 tsp in 8 oz of warm water, stir well, don't strain, and sip slowly. You can have up to 5 cups a day.

If you don't have an infection, or kidney stones, I would stay away from cranberry juice -- my gyno told me it can actually irritate you further. D-Mannose, the sugar in cranberries that prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls, is far more effective taken by itself. You can buy it in most health food or supplement stores.
posted by ananci at 7:20 PM on June 18, 2015

I've had this problem for years and I think it starts as a physical issue that becomes a mental one.

If your lifestyle allows for 'training' then definitely do that. If not and you follow all the various advice, know that it gets a bit better, but mine hasn't fully receded after 8 years.
posted by bquarters at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2015

I second the recommendation of AZO pills, which are sold over the counter and are a dark red color. They turn your pee orange, but they work very well at basically getting your urinary tract to calm down - they are like advil for your urinary tract. Taking them for a few days might "reset" muscles that are spasming.

If things don't get back to normal within a day or two, definitely see another doctor or a urologist.
posted by mai at 8:22 PM on June 18, 2015

Oops, just saw that you had already seen two urologists. But it still might be worth getting another opinion.
posted by mai at 8:23 PM on June 18, 2015

One urologist who is a friend mentioned that he spends a lot of time talking with male and female patients about interstitial cystitis. Not sure much can be done for it, but it's quite common and worthwhile investigating if only to have a diagnosis.
posted by Atrahasis at 8:24 PM on June 18, 2015

Possibly kidney stones?
posted by Joleta at 8:24 PM on June 18, 2015

I had this condition happen to me way back in high school. I remember for a time needing to ask to be excused to go to the bathroom practically once per class and then really not being able to produce any urine once I got there.

Whatever the initial cause, it's my opinion that straining to empty your bladder is actually what causes your body to feel like it needs to go when there's nothing in there. It then becomes a vicious cycle where you're straining because you're so worried about being able to make it until the next time you can go, and in fact you're just making it worse. I think that's what bquarters was getting at when they said it starts as a physical issue that becomes mental.

I've also read that drinking more water counterintuitively helps, because instead of going often for very little amounts, your body gets better at saving it up for more infrequent but more productive trips.

So my advice would be to try to drink more water in general, try to wait longer between trips to the bathroom, and don't strain when you're there, and see if that helps. Good luck.
posted by cali59 at 9:05 PM on June 18, 2015

I'll second the "diabetes" answer. Might not be it, but worth checking for.
posted by clawsoon at 10:12 PM on June 18, 2015

I have overactive bladder that was diagnosed by a urogynecologist. I'm on Ditropan, which is available over the counter as a patch in the US. If there's really no diagnosis, you should ask for a referral for physical therapy for pelvic floor and bladder retraining. Ditropan is pretty harmless, and along with Azo might help make you more comfortable and take your mind off it.

Fwiw, I also have some other pelvic issues... Cystic ovaries (inc a large one on the L) and maybe some endo. My bladder empties normally, but I have muscle spasms as soon as it starts to fill - not sure what kind of testing they did for you. I think looking into IC is worthwhile if you're not getting answers. Also, take care of the skin tissue around your labia... Rinsing with cool water will soothe the nerve endings, and keeps the skin clean, a cool nappy wipe is nice too. I also use a little coconut oil or aloe sometimes. There's a lot of nerve endings down there, who's messages get all mixed up and refer etc. the more you can cut down on that, the better!

Also, food. I can't have black tea or CORN. Argh. Corn = days of misery!

Memail me if you have questions or want to commiserate.

(This is worth pursuing! I have good days and bad days... Constantly subconsciously thinking about peeing is exhausting!)
posted by jrobin276 at 11:24 PM on June 18, 2015

I knew I had something else!
Lower back strain, tight hips, tight ligaments in my thigh, and tight... some deep ab muscle who's name I can't remember - all cause flare-ups for me. The lower back strain one is the most obvious. A good (sports/medical) massage therapist can definitely help!

(Oh and I take 5mg of Ditropan/day, orally. I didn't think the patches were as effective, but YMMV.)

Also, proper potty posture can help.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:19 AM on June 19, 2015

I have very painful episodes like this sometimes, which feel like a UTI but aren't. In my case, it's a really weird answer, which is that I am allergic to some people's semen. And my allergy is on a 24-36-hour delay, so it took me a while to figure it out, and it sucked a lot before I did. Also urethral irritation. It doesn't have to be an infection to feel like one.
posted by Because at 4:03 AM on June 19, 2015

I too would suggest seeing a urogynecologist--he/she will specialize in the female urinary system and its intersection with the reproductive system. Stuff sometimes gets missed by standard-issue urologists and gynecologists.
posted by mchorn at 6:45 AM on June 19, 2015

I'm male, but I have this problem and have been through the whole urologist/bladder training thing. My pet theory is that it's related to my long-term (25+) back problems which present as extreme tightness in the left hip/psoas/etc. I had a spinal fusion to no avail. I think the nerves in that area are generally overactive and that this has some relation to the bladder thing - but I honestly don't know if that's medically possible.

The other thing is that for sure better hydration helps me - this thread is a good reminder to start bringing my Camelbak to work again. Good luck!
posted by freecellwizard at 8:18 AM on June 19, 2015

Response by poster: Recent tests were negative for diabetes.

I am now seeing a urogynecologist. I hope to have an answer soon!
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 3:07 PM on July 8, 2015

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