If you’ve ever wondered how often you should pee on a daily basis, you’re not alone. How often you urinate is actually a very important sign of your overall health, beginning in infancy and continuing throughout your life. Keep reading to learn more about urination and when your pee may signal that you need to visit your doctor.

A healthy person may urinate anywhere from four to ten times in a day. The average amount, however, is usually between six and seven times in a 24-hour period. But it’s not out of the ordinary to urinate more or less on any given day. How much you pee depends on many factors, such as:

  • age
  • how much you drink in a day
  • what you drink
  • medical conditions, such as diabetes or a urinary tract infection
  • medication usage
  • bladder size

Special circumstances, such as pregnancy and the weeks after giving birth, can affect how often you urinate as well. During pregnancy, a woman urinates more frequently due to fluid changes along with bladder pressure from the growing fetus. After birth, a woman will have an increased urinary output for up to eight weeks. This is because of the extra fluids she may have received during labor from an IV, or medicine, as well as the body’s natural response to mobilize and eliminate fluids after birth.

Several medical conditions may affect how often you pee, such as urinary incontinence or retention, or prostate issues for men. Other conditions that may cause excessive urination include:

  • Diabetes. If you have diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes, the extra sugar in your bloodstream causes fluid to shift so that you urinate more frequently.
  • Hypo or hypercalcemia. If the calcium levels in your body are unbalanced, whether they’re too high or too low, this can upset the urine flow in your body.
  • Sickle cell anemia. This condition can affect kidney function and the concentration of the urine. This can cause people with sickle cell anemia to urinate more frequently.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is another condition that can affect how often you urinate. Both men and women can develop UTIs, although they’re more common in women. A UTI can make you feel an urgent need to urinate, even if you recently emptied your bladder. During an infection, you may find yourself urinating more often, but in smaller amounts. You’ll also likely feel a burning sensation when you urinate. There are many possible causes for a UTI, so it’s best to see your doctor if you suspect an infection of your urinary tract.

Certain conditions may cause you to experience a lower-than-average output of urine. For men, this may be due to an enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate is often caused by benign prostate enlargement (BPH), which isn’t cancerous or due to prostate cancer. When the prostate becomes enlarged, it can block the flow of urine out of your bladder. This can leave you unable to fully empty your bladder, even after urination.

People with heart problems, high blood pressure, or poor kidney function often take medications that are called diuretics. Diuretics pull extra fluid out of the blood stream and move it into the kidney. Taking diuretics may cause you to urinate more frequently. Some common diuretics include:

  • chlorothiazide (Diuril)
  • chlorthalidone (Thalitone)
  • hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide)
  • indapamide
  • metolazone
  • bumetanide (Bumex)
  • furosemide (Lasix)
  • torsemide (Demadex)
  • amiloride (Midamor)
  • eplerenone (Inspra)
  • spironolactone (Aldactone)
  • triamterene (Dyrenium)

Alcohol and caffeine can both have diuretic effects, causing you to urinate more than usual. When consuming these substances, frequent urination probably isn’t a sign of a medical issue.

Caffeine is found in many foods and drinks, including:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • soda
  • hot chocolate
  • energy drinks

Learn more: The effects of caffeine on the body »

Drinking large amounts of water during the day can also increase your urine output and frequency.

If you’ve recently had a test that involved injecting dye into your body, such as a CT scan, you may pee more as your body eliminates the extra fluid.

If you’re peeing so much every day that you feel it’s affecting your quality of life, talk to your doctor. You may have an underlying medical condition such as an overactive bladder. This can be treated.

You should also speak to your doctor if you’re peeing too infrequently, or feel like your bladder isn’t fully emptying even when you urinate, especially if you’re an older male. Other symptoms that merit a call to your doctor are:

  • fever and back pain
  • blood in your urine
  • white and cloudy urine
  • discolored urine
  • strong or abnormal smell to your urine

Your treatment will depend on which condition is causing your symptoms. If you’re pregnant, for example, frequent urination will continue until you give birth.

If your symptoms are caused by a medical condition, treating the condition may help. For example, if you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar should reduce your need to urinate. If your urination frequency is caused by a UTI, once the UTI has resolved, your urine output should return to normal. If you have an enlarged prostate blocking urine flow, you may need medicine to increase your urine flow or decrease your prostate size. If you’re on a diuretic medication for heart failure or high blood pressure, your doctor may try to adjust your dose in order to help your symptoms.

If you’re concerned about the amount you’re urinating, talk to your doctor. They may put your mind at ease and tell you that your urinary output is normal, or they may recognize additional symptoms. A urinalysis, which can be done in your doctor’s office, can provide useful information about your urinary tract health. Identifying any underlying problems is the first step in a finding a successful treatment plan.

It’s important to note that for women, urinating before or after sex, wiping direction, hot tubs, douches, and tampon use have not been shown to cause or prevent urinary tract infections.

In addition to letting your doctor know about any difficulty you have urinating, or any concerns about how frequently you’re urinating, here are a few tips to decrease genital and urinary irritation:

  • Eat foods rich in probiotics, especially lactobacillus, which is found in yogurt and kefir. Studies suggest this may be helpful for women with recurrent UTIs.
  • If you use soap in the genital area, use an unscented product made for sensitive skin.
  • Wear loose, cotton underwear.
  • Avoid tight-fitting jeans and leggings.
  • Consider wearing no underwear to bed to help your genital area stay cooler.
  • Drink six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water each day.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol, soda, or caffeine consumption.
  • Avoid things that may cause bladder irritation, such as artificial sweeteners and smoking cigarettes.