How anxiety causes you to urinate more is explained by a urologist.

It’s no secret that there’s something about anxiety that causes more trips to the toilet to take a leak.

But what’s really going on here? I was inspired to write this article, with a urologist as an expert source, due to my own experience with this situation.

Some years ago I was up every 90 minutes or less overnight to empty my bladder.

And every minute that I lie awake, I was consumed with enormous anxiety, because while I lie there in the darkness, I kept anticipating that at any moment, I’d begin hearing that awful thumping sound of my parents’ German shepherd having a seizure as a result of an incurable brain tumor.

I was staying with them to take care of this dog, which I loved. The anxiety was torture.

“Anxiety or nervousness can cause frequent urination,” says Kenneth Peters, MD, chief of urology for Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI.

“The exact reason is not known, however. We see this in people of all ages.

“The brain is involved in processing signals from the bladder. This is how we know when we need to urinate.

“Normally, we can suppress this sensation until it is convenient to void. However, it is not uncommon when people are nervous or upset, that both the bladder and bowel (irritable bowel syndrome) become more active.”

Mechanism Behind How Anxiety Causes Frequent Urination

Dr. Peters explains, “To void normally and empty completely, the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and bowel must work properly.

“The pelvis is like a bowl, and the walls of the bowl are lined with muscles (pelvic floor).

“These muscles support the bladder, bowel and pelvic organs. To urinate normally, the pelvic floor muscles must relax, sending a signal to the brain for the bladder to contract.

“When a person is stressed or has anxiety, it is difficult to relax the pelvic floor muscles; thus the bladder cannot contract completely and empty.

“This is commonly seen in men with ‘shy bladder syndrome,’ in which they have difficulty voiding at a urinal when others are present, due to the inability to relax the muscles.

“Chronic tightness of the pelvic floor can lead to bladder irritability and greater frequency.

“Sitting in a warm tub bath or placing a heating pad on the lower pelvis can help with this spasm.

“If symptoms persist, pelvic floor physical therapy, directed at pelvic muscle relaxation, can help.

“Most importantly, stress reduction and management is key. A psychologist can help with stress management. Yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can also help.

“If symptoms persist. the individual should see a urologist to make certain there is no infection, inflammation or urinary obstruction.”

Even lower levels of anxiety can cause a person to feel the urge to urinate overnight or even during waking hours.

They aren’t voiding a higher volume of excrement (assuming that their water intake is the same as it’s always been).

Instead, they just aren’t voiding it all at each sitting. In my case, each urge felt as though a normal amount of urine was going to finally come out, but it kept ending up more like a trickle.

Dr. Peters, in practice for 30+ years, is board certified by the American Board of Urology. One of his specialties is treating bladder pain.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick