So THAT'S Why You Have To Pee More Frequently As You Get Older

If you catch yourself rushing off to the bathroom more frequently, this could be why.
If you catch yourself rushing off to the bathroom more frequently, this could be why.

If you catch yourself rushing off to the bathroom more frequently, this could be why.

Do you find yourself constantly running to the bathroom? It may seem like you have to pee every hour (or maybe every other hour). Depending on who you ask, this might not be viewed as a problem but merely a symptom of aging.

And it’s true: A host of changes happen to your body as you get older, including bladder issues. While urinary incontinence affects people differently ― especially with age ― there are a few explanations for why you may experience this.

We asked gynecologists, urologists and pelvic floor therapists to delve into the common reasons you have to pee more frequently as you get older. Here’s what to know:

You’re experiencing a decline in estrogen. 

According to the North American Menopause Society, estrogen levels tend to decrease when people enter the early stages of menopause, also known as perimenopause.

“Estrogen is an integral hormone for maintaining bladder wall strength,” said Dr. Monica Grover, an OB-GYN and chief medical officer at VSPOT. “As it declines, the tissues supporting the bladder wall start to become weak and stiff, thus increasing the frequency to urinate.”

You may want to talk with your doctor about getting your estrogen levels checked if you think this could be part of the problem. Signs of decreased estrogen, particularly as a result of menopause, may include breast tenderness, frequent urinary tract infections and bone loss. 

You may have pelvic organ prolapse. 

Pelvic organ prolapseoccurs when one or more of the pelvic organs (bladder, bowels, uterus) are not optimally supported by the pelvic floor muscles and ligaments.

“If your bladder prolapses, it can sag into your front vaginal wall where residual urine can hang out after your pee,” said Sara Reardon, board-certified pelvic physical therapist and founder of The Vagina Whisperer. “Therefore you feel like you don’t empty completely and shortly after peeing, you may feel like you have to go again.” 

While you’ll want to talk with your doctor about ways to strengthen your pelvic floor, kegel exercises can be helpful. 

You have a urinary tract infection. 

According to the Urology Care Foundation, about 10 in 25 women and 3 in 25 men will have symptoms of a urinary tract infection during their lifetime. 

As women age and progress through menopause, the diminished estrogen reserves change vaginal tissue to become more dry as well as the vaginal pH,” Grover said. “As a result, women do not experience the typical telltale signs of a UTI ― such as pain ― but will most likely experience frequent urination.”  

Your bladder is smaller.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I feel like my bladder has gotten smaller”? That actually does happen as you age. 

“The amount of urine it takes for someone to get the urge to go is less with aging and the amount of urine the bladder can hold is less,” Reardon said. “Often this is why aging women get diagnosed with Overactive Bladder because the bladder becomes more sensitive and shrinks.” 

In particular, the elastic tissue becomes stiffer and the bladder becomes less stretchy, which tends to cause more frequent urination.

You’re more constipated. 

Constipation is more common with aging and it actually can lead to more urinary urgency.

“If the colon and rectum are full of poop, this actually can put pressure on your bladder, causing it to feel like you have more urgency to pee,” Reardon said. 

Addressing constipation with exercise, dietary fiber, hydration and proper pooping mechanics can actually help your bladder urgency. 

You’re on certain medications. 

As you age, the likelihood of having chronic illnesses and taking multiple medications increases.

“Certain medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease can lead to increased urine production,” said Dr. Anat Sapan, board certified OB-GYN and menopause expert. “Similarly, many medications, such as diuretics commonly used for high blood pressure, can increase urinary frequency.”

You’re consuming too much caffeine. 

If you’re the type of person who drinks a cup of coffee (or two) and likes to drink, whether that’s a glass of wine or beer, then that might be the reason you have to pee so much.

Caffeine and alcohol are both bladder irritants and diuretics, which increase your body’s tendency to excrete water through urine,” said Dr. Andrew Y. Sun, board-certified urologist and chief medical adviser for Marius Pharmaceuticals. “Limiting the consumption of coffee, soda, wine, cocktails — even chocolate — can help reduce the need to pee frequently.”

Your prostate is getting larger.

As men age, the prostate naturally increases in size, squeezing the urethra so that instead of peeing through a fire hose, you’re peeing through a cocktail straw instead.

“If the prostate gets tight, then the bladder has to work extra hard to pump the urine out through this tighter opening,” Sun said. “Over time, because the bladder is ‘working out’ so much, it becomes thicker and more spastic, which can cause overactive bladder and frequency of urination.” 

Treatments for this problem include medication to relax and shrink the prostate or surgical procedures to open it up.

You might have Type 2 diabetes.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45. A common symptom of Type 2 diabetes is frequent urination, which might explain the need to pee more as you get older. 

“Generally there’s a build up of glucose in the blood which forces the kidneys to work harder to filter and absorb the extra sugar,” said Dr. Erica Montes, a physician and an adviser for pH-D Feminine Health. “However, when the kidneys can’t keep up, the extra sugar goes into the urine which could lead to more frequent urination.” 

If you suspect you’re dealing with any of these issues ― or you’re just generally peeing more than you feel is normal ― chat with your doctor. They can run tests to figure out the culprit and find you some relief.