7 Reasons You Might Be Peeing Infrequently

You may be dehydrated, have a kidney condition, or just naturally pee less often than most people.

Depending on your other symptoms, your infrequent urination could be normal for you or a sign of dehydration, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or a kidney condition.

If you are suddenly unable to pee, get emergency medical help right away. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that this condition can be life-threatening. If this does not apply to you, learn more about conditions that can cause you to pee infrequently.

How Much Do People Usually Pee?

You should normally urinate two times or more a day, according to Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health. Most people urinate four to 10 times a day, but that number can be influenced by your age, size, and lifestyle. Peeing three times a day could be normal for you.

In general, we urinate as much as we need to because our bodies do a good job of regulating fluids. As long as your urine is light yellow and you are urinating more than once a day, you are probably hydrated enough. Still, Dr. Rajapaksa recommended using the bathroom when you feel the need to pee. Holding in urine for too long can stretch your bladder and weaken your urinary tract muscles, as well as increase your risk of urinary tract infections.

Urinating as few as two times a day can be normal if you have light yellow pee. However, if you pee less frequently, are unable to urinate, have abdomen or groin pain, or if your pee is dark, these could be signs of a kidney or urinary system condition.

Why You May Not Be Peeing Often

Dehydration

If your urine is amber-colored or dark orange, you could be dehydrated. Your body may be trying to conserve water, so it is using less water in your pee, causing that darker color. Other symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, a dry mouth, dry skin, feeling tired, and dizziness. Dr. Rajapaksa recommended drinking more water to check if you are dehydrated. If you continue to have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.

Dehydration can also be life-threatening in severe cases. The NIH recommends getting emergency medical help if you or your loved one are confused, faint, do not urinate, have a rapid heart rate, have rapid breathing, or are in shock.

Your Medications

Some medicines and medical agents can make you produce less urine. According to StatPearls, these can include:

  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • Radiocontrast media (the liquids you drink or are injected with for scans)
  • Medicines to prevent transplant rejection
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen

Other medicines can prevent your nerves from sending signals that allow your body to pee. According to the NIH, these can include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiparkinson medications
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives
  • Opioids
  • Antipsychotics
  • SNRIs

If you think your medicines are preventing you from peeing, contact your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking any medication before talking with them.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can also reduce the amount you pee by blocking the flow of your urine. They are clumps of salt and minerals that can become stuck in your ureters, the tubes that carry urine from your kidney to your bladder. These stones can also become stuck in tubes further down your urinary tract.

Other common symptoms of kidney stones include nausea, the frequent need to pee, pain when urinating, bloody urine, or pain in your back, groin, or side. If you have severe symptoms or signs of infection like fever, get medical help right away.

Narrowed Urinary Tract

The urethra is the tube that carries pee outside of your body. If it is narrowed by inflammation or blockages, that can prevent you from peeing. According to the NIH, some causes of inflammation or blockages include:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Prostatitis, the inflammation of your prostate gland
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic tumors
  • Urethral strictures, the scarring of your urethra

Besides preventing you from peeing, some of these conditions can also cause pain when you urinate, frequent need to urinate, and abdominal pain. Contact your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and to discuss treatments.

Neurologic Conditions

Some neurologic conditions can interfere with your brain from sending signals to your bladder to squeeze. This condition is called neurogenic bladder.

According to Johns Hopkins, some causes of neurogenic bladder include diabetes, infections, and spinal cord injury, or tumors. The NIH also lists Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, pelvic injury, and vaginal births as possible causes.

Kidney Damage and Failure

Since your kidneys are the organs that make urine, kidney disease and injuries can prevent you from making pee. The most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which slowly damage your kidneys over time. High blood sugar from untreated diabetes makes your kidneys work too hard to filter your blood. Meanwhile, high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels around your kidneys.

A Weak Bladder

Besides all of these other conditions affecting your kidney and urinary system, your bladder muscles could just be too weak to push out your urine. According to the NIH, this can be due to age, pregnancy, or injuries. It can also be caused by an over-filled bladder⁠—that is one reason why Dr. Rajapaksa recommended peeing when you feel the need to urinate.

The NIH states that treatments can include diet and lifestyle changes, routine bladder training, and pelvic floor exercises. Talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment plan.

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