While Urination is an important function for survival in humans, as its the body's way of getting rid of excess water, its frequency can also interfere with a woman's quality of life.
A woman, a beer parlour owner, who was passing urine frequently, was accused by husband of taking too much of what she sells. The argument got so heated that he forced her to go for a test. Lo and behold, the result had no traces of alcohol, rather it was a case of frequent urination due to an overactive bladder!
Urination is the body’s way of getting rid of excess water, as well as wastes. While this is an important function for survival, its frequency can interfere with a woman’s quality of life.
Frequent trips to the bathroom, not sleeping through the night or refraining from going out for fear that they will leak urine, are often familiar to women who experience frequent urination.
A change in the colour of urine (red, pink, or cola-coloured), a sudden and strong urge to urinate, difficulty in emptying the bladder, urinary incontinence and painful urination are all indications of bladder control problems in women.
Causes and risk factors
Diets: Caffeine intake through coffee, tea, alcohol intake and certain soft drinks
Lifestyle: Obesity (excess weight) can place extra pressure on the bladder. The result can be weaker pelvic floor muscles and a need to urinate more frequently.
Pregnancy: Frequent urination is common with pregnancy. The growing uterus can place extra pressure on the bladder during pregnancy. As a result, a woman may have to go to the bathroom more frequently.
Menopause: It can also affect bladder control. When women no longer have their periods, their bodies stop making estrogen.
Medical: Bladder stones, diabetes, cystitis (a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the bladder), low estrogen levels, urinary tract infection and a weak pelvic floor organ.
Childbirth: Childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and damage the nerves in the bladder. Sometimes a woman may not experience problems with bladder control immediately after giving birth, but she may experience symptoms years later.
Complications associated with urinary frequency often depend on the condition’s underlying cause, which would be urinary tract infection, pyelonephritis, renal failure or damaged kidneys.
If urinary frequency occurs on its own with no immediate treatable illness, it can affect a woman’s quality of life. A woman may not be able to sleep well due to having to wake up to go to the bathroom very often. She may also refrain from social events for fear of having to go to the bathroom too frequently. These complications can all influence a woman’s sense of well-being.
A doctor may take a urine sample for evaluation. A laboratory can identify the presence of white or red blood cells, as well as other compounds that should not be present in the urine that could indicate an underlying infection.
Tests for blood sugar are mandatory, the urine can also be tested for the presence of glucose.
Abdominal scans may be done, while taking blood samples for electrolytes to rule out complications is also necessary.
Other tests may include cystometry or the measure of pressure in the bladder, or cystoscopy, which involves using special instruments to look inside the urethra and bladder. Other diagnostic methods may depend upon a woman’s specific symptoms.
Treatments and preventive techniques
There are lifestyle and medical means to treat frequent urination so that a woman does not have to suffer with the symptoms.
Lifestyle modifications: Avoiding foods and drinks known to irritate the bladder can help a woman experience fewer episodes of urination. Examples include avoiding caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods and alcoholic drinks.
Adjusting patterns of fluid intake: Avoiding drinking too much water before bedtime can reduce the likelihood of waking up at night to go to the bathroom.
Bladder retraining: Bladder retraining is another method to reduce the amount of times a woman goes to the bathroom per day. To accomplish this, she will work on a regular schedule instead of always waiting until she feels the need to urinate.
Antibiotics: If a urinary tract infection is causing a woman’s frequent urination, taking antibiotics to cure the infection may help. Other treatments and preventive techniques for frequent urination that is not due to infection include:
In addition to these methods, medications can be prescribed that reduce bladder spasms and encourage relaxation of the bladder. Sometimes a doctor will recommend injections which can reduce the incidence of bladder spasms.
In conclusion, painful urination or pelvic pains along with frequent urination, are also causes for concern. A woman should also see her doctor any time that she experiences symptoms make her uncomfortable or interfere with her quality of life.
Written by: Rotimi Adesanya - Child and Public Health Physician