Why am I peeing so much on my period?
Hormonal changes are a significant cause of peeing more than usual. There are progesterone and estrogen receptors in the bladder, and lower estrogen levels during menopause, for instance, are known to be linked to more frequent urination (as well as nausea during period time). So during the hormonal swings that occur during the menstrual cycle, it would make sense that the amount we have to pee fluctuates at different times during the month. Specifically, doctors point to lowered progesterone as a culprit for why you pee more during your period.
- Arnold Sholder, MD, urologist and chairman of the board/co-founder of Moonstone Nutrition
- Karyn Eilber, MD, board-certified urologist and associate professor of urology and OB/GYN at Cedars-Sinai Hospital
- Lamia Gabal, MD, board-certified urologist and founder of Prestige Medical Group in Santa Ana, California
- Rebeka Racz, NP, labor and delivery nurse at Mount Sinai in New York City
- Samantha M. Dunham, MD, OB-GYN at NYU Langone Health
“Prior to the period, a hormone called progesterone is elevated,” says Samantha M. Dunham, MD, an OB/GYN at NYU Langone Health in New York City. “When the progesterone levels drop, which occurs every month to trigger menses, there is a fluid shift in the body. This releases a lot of fluid and often makes people have to pee more.” Since progesterone drops in the days before your period, you could experience frequent urination as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), too.
Pressure on your bladder can cause that urge, too. “The contraction, which is felt as period cramps, causes pressure on your bladder, which will make you feel like you need to pee,” says Rebeka Racz, NP, a labor and delivery nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Due to this pressure, sometimes you don’t actually have that much urine in your bladder, so it may just feel like you need to pee even if you don’t.”
Is more frequent peeing during your period something to worry about?
Just like how your period blood color changes throughout your cycle, if frequent urination during your period happens to you every month, it's normal. Otherwise, it could be a sign of another issue. “If it’s a new occurrence, see a doctor to be sure the frequent urination is not a sign of another problem,” Dr. Dunham says. “Urinary tract infections, and sometimes sexually transmitted infections, can show up.”
Racz agrees that an ongoing urinary issue that worsens with each period—especially if it involves not being able to actually go—means you should contact your provider, as a UTI could be the problem. Noticing pain while peeing, blood in your urine, or other symptoms that negatively affect your quality of life are also signs it’s a good idea to see a doctor, Dr. Dunham adds.
When you're assessing whether excessive urination during your period is something to worry about, you should first monitor your typical patterns to get some baseline information about the habits of your own body (and bladder). What's normal for someone else might not be normal for you.
How many times should I pee a day?
There is no hard and fast "normal" number for the amount of times a person should go number one every day. A combination of biology and a lifetime of habits determine much a person needs to urinate every day, and their ability to hold their pee.
"Like the rest of our body, there is great variation in our bladder‘s ability to store urine," urologist Arnold Sholder, MD, previously told Well+Good about holding pee. "These differences are related to bladder size, bladder wall thickness, and variations in neurologic influences. These distinct features allow some people to hold their urine longer than others."
Other factors like your fluid intake—both how much, and what kinds of fluid you're drinking—can impact the amount you pee. Diuretics like alcohol, coffee, and carbonated beverages can increase the urge.
All that said, a normal range is somewhere in the neighborhood of around 8 times per day.
"The 'normal' number of times to pee each day can vary depending on volume of fluid and what type of fluid," Karyn Eilber, MD, a board-certified urologist and an associate professor of urology and OB/GYN at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, previously told Well+Good about pee patterns. "However, urinating more than eight times in a 24-hour period, assuming no excessive fluid intake, is generally considered excessive."
One thing to look out for is the amount you pee. Your bladder can hold around three cups of fluid, so when you pee, you should empty your bladder fully with around that amount.
"What's not normal is urinating frequently with just a few tablespoons of urine," says Dr. Eilber. If you're experiencing this, you might want to speak with your doctor, and see whether they think it's warranted to get checked out for a urinary tract infection, overactive bladder syndrome, or prostate problems.
Can anything prevent or lessen the need to pee more on your period?
If you’re busy like I am, you know how annoying a trip to the bathroom every hour can be—and how important not holding it in is. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to lessen your urge.
Avoiding fluid retention as much as possible can actually help if you need to pee more during your period. To minimize fluid retention before your period, Dr. Dunham says you should increase fluid consumption and stay well-hydrated. “Avoiding salty foods also helps reduce fluid retention. Eating more crunchy veggies and less processed food can help move fluids through our systems.” Other than drinking water, Racz recommends taking Advil or Ibuprofen to help with cramps.
Hormonal birth control
It is also possible to address the hormones directly. “The other way to prevent the progesterone plunge is to take a combination contraceptive and suppress the hormonal ups and downs of a regular cycle,” Dr. Dunham says. Taking “the pill” can help in a variety of ways. “Birth control is very effective to alleviate cramping, and very painful periods can be a sign of an underlying problem,” Racz says.
Practice proactive bladder health all month long
Maintaining proper bladder health during the rest of the month could also help if you need to pee more during your period. If your bladder is already overactive, a period can just add fuel to the always-running-to-the-bathroom-fire. Avoid both holding your pee, and trying to pee when you don't feel the urge, which is known as the "just in case pee." Doing this "can send a message to your brain that this is a correct volume for your bladder to have the sensation of needing to urinate, almost training your bladder to have to void at smaller volumes," board-certified urologist Lamia Gabal, MD, previously told Well+Good about the just in case pee.
Meanwhile, "chronically holding in your pee can overstretch your bladder and lead to bladder muscle weakness," Dr. Gabal says. "It can teach your pelvic floor and sphincter to stay contracted and not be able to relax, even when it's time to pee, which is something we call 'dysfunctional voiding,'" and can cause kidney damage in the long term.
Other than answering nature's call, you can proactively work on your bladder health by strengthening your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor strength is what prevents incontinence. And a strong pelvic floor can also, counterintuitively, help your bladder relax.
"You can 'train' your bladder by trying to avoid urination with the first urge by doing a Kegel exercise," Dr. Gabal says. "This may cause the bladder to relax and be able to delay voiding."
Most of all, though, you may just have to stick it out. Peeing constantly on your period is no fun, but at least it only lasts a week or less, right?
- Robinson, Dudley et al. “The effect of hormones on the lower urinary tract.” Menopause international vol. 19,4 (2013): 155-62. doi:10.1177/1754045313511398
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