Peeing: How much is too much?


When the need for number one arises, you have no alternative but to go with the flow. However, going to the bathroom too many times per day can disrupt your life, and may even be a sign of incontinence.  

According to Dr Ferdi Marais, a Cape Town urologist, a normal adult urinates about 300–400ml five to six times a day. If you take in more fluid than normal you will naturally pass more urine, but according to Dr Marais urinating more than six times a day is abnormal.

Is it bad to 'hold it in' for too long?

According to a Health24 article, the average bladder can hold about one and a half to two cups (300 to 400ml) of urine during the day and about four cups (800ml) during the night. “It is important for the bladder to be emptied regularly and completely because stasis of urine can lead to bacteria multiplying in the bladder, which can cause a bladder infection,” Dr Marais explains.

He says that excessive "holding in" of urine, especially in children, can cause permanent damage because holding in for too long can lead to a lazy bladder which doesn't empty completely.

Incontinence: men vs. women

Urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine, is more common among women because of the anatomy of their urinary tract, according to Dr Marais. Generally speaking, incontinence in women is related to the following:

  • Pregnancy, labour and vaginal deliveries.
  • Being overweight
  • Genetic or family history
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Oral oestrogen and progesterone treatment

Men have well developed bladder necks, prostates and longer urethras (bladder pipes) which increase their resistance to urine flow and therefore incontinence is less common among men.  

Sensitive bladder or incontinence

A sensitive bladder is a subjective symptom where the bladder is perceived to be more sensitive to filling up, explains Dr Marais.

Incontinence, on the other hand, is the involuntary loss of urine. “If a person’s incontinence is accompanied by blood in the urine, pain, difficulty to pass urine or acute onset of urine, they should seek medical help as soon as possible,” Dr Marais advises.

Certain external factors like caffeine, alcohol or carbonated drinks can cause a sensitive bladder which can ultimately lead to incontinence. Dr Alayne Markland, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, previously said in a Health24 article that people who have problems with urinary incontinence should therefore modify their caffeine intake. 

Whether you are incontinent or merely have a sensitive bladder, it can only be beneficial to your health to start taking note of how many times a day you need to urinate.  

Read More:

15 things you didn't know about urine

Urinary incontinence in menopause

Should you keep a bladder diary?

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