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 it could be a sign of dehydration, a urinary tract infection (UTI), or a kidney condition.

If you are unable to pee or have severe pain in your abdomen, get emergency medical help right away. Acute urinary retention 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. You should urinate every three to four hours but that number could be different for each person. For instance, 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 a straw yellow color 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.

Why You May Not Be Peeing Often

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-colored, these could be signs of a kidney or urinary system condition.

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 be life-threatening in severe cases. You should get emergency medical help if you or your loved one experience symptoms such as:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Lack of urination
  • Have a rapid heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Shock

Your Medications

Some medicines and medical agents can make you produce less urine—known as oliguria. These medications 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. These can include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiparkinson medications
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives
  • Opioids
  • Antipsychotics
  • Serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (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.

Common symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Sharp pain in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • The frequent need to pee
  • Pain when urinating
  • Bloody urine

If you have any of these symptoms, get help from a healthcare provider 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 urinating. 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
  • Bladder obstruction

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 treatment as it will vary depending on what is causing the narrowed urinary tract.

Neurologic Conditions

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

  • Diabetes
  • Infections
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Tumors
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Pelvic injury
  • Vaginal births

Treatment will vary depending on the which condition is causing the infrequent urination.

A Weak Bladder

Besides all of these other conditions affecting your kidneys and urinary system, your bladder muscles could just be too weak to push out your urine, which can also cause incontinence or accidental loss of urine. 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. Treatments can include:

Talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment plan.

A Quick Review

If you're urinating less than normal, this may be because of an underlying condition such as a blockage or narrowing in the urethra, a neurologic condition (like Parkinson's or multiple sclerosis), kidney damage or failure, or a weak bladder.

Discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider so they can figure out what is the best course of treatment. This may include pelvic floor exercises, dietary or lifestyle changes, or medication.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Institute on Aging. 15 tips to keep your bladder healthy.

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  4. National Library of Medicine. Dehydration.

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  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of urinary retention.

  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Definition & facts for kidney stones.

  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & causes of kidney stones.

  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatments for bladder control problems (urinary incontinence).

  10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatments for bladder control problems (urinary incontinence).

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