Some days you feel like you’re constantly running to the bathroom to pee: The minute you return to your chair, your bladder beckons once more. But then other days, you can go hours (yes, hours!) without any pee interruptions. So, what gives? We tapped top experts to get the answer to the question: How often should I really be peeing?
Unfortunately, it’s not simple.
“There is no normal,” says Dr Keri Peterson, internal medicine physician in New York City. “On average people go about six to seven times per day.”
How often you visit the loo is affected by a variety of different factors such as your fluid intake—the average woman should aim for eight glasses (2 litres) of water a day—your salt consumption, your degree of sweating, and your bladder capacity—a.k.a. how much liquid your bladder can hold, a stat that varies from person to person. So, on the days that you drink more water and/or ingest more salt, which makes you thirstier, and in turn, causes you to drink more, you’re likely going to have to urinate more frequently, Peterson says.
The opposite can occur when you amp up your level of activity and sweat more, says Dr Orli Etingin, medical director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at New York-Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medicine. In those cases, you’re body is forced to use a large amount of the water ingested to replete what was lost through perspiration.
But the number of times you stop by the porcelain throne should only become a cause for concern if you notice a “drastic change,” Peterson says.
If you find that you’re going frequently or feeling the urge to pee frequently but, in both scenarios, little-to-no urine comes out, you might be experiencing signs of conditions such as irritable bladder or spastic bladder, where you feel like you have to pee but there’s nothing in there, Etingin explains. These conditions can be treated by doing kegel exercises and changing your diet but definitely warrant a visit to your doctor.
If you’re going more often and it hurts and/or burns to relieve yourself, you might have a bladder infection like a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is especially common in young woman, says Dr Christina Pramudji, director of Houston Female Urology. You’ll def need to visit a doc for this, too, and could need antibiotics to treat the problem.
You should also see your doc if your frequency has changed and you see blood in your urine, feel the need to push when you pee, leak in between urination, or have to pee several (two to three) times a night, Pramudji says. Keep track of your bathroom habits and if you notice anything extremely different, without increasing your fluid intake, you should definitely consult a pro about what’s causing these changes.
And let’s not forget there are also those days where you have to go to the bathroom but instead just hold it in; maybe you have lots of work to do or—we’ve all been there—you’re just lazy. No matter the excuse, you should try to avoid holding in your pee because doing so regularly over many weeks, months, etc., can overstretch your bladder muscle, making it so you can no longer empty all the way, Etingin says.
What’s more, holding it in can also increase your risk of infection since urine has lots of bacteria that can multiply when held in your bladder routinely for long periods of time, Pramudji adds. She recommends you avoid holding in your pee in for more than four hours during the day—the night’s a different story since we actually have a hormone that shuts down our kidneys, which make urine, while we sleep.
In the wise words of a young Kendall Jenner, “holding in your pee is no way to live.” So keep on relieving as frequently as works for you and your bladder.