Frequent Urination and Erectile Dysfunction: What's the Link?
Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a common issue that can have a number of causes, from physical issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure to psychological problems such as sexual performance anxiety.
Although there isn’t a direct link between frequent urination and ED, some of the physical health issues that can cause or contribute to ED may also affect your need to urinate.
What is frequent urination a sign of? A variety of issues can cause frequent urination, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), an enlarged prostate, uncontrolled diabetes and nerve problems that may affect your pelvis and lower body.
Below, we’ve explained how often you should urinate, as well as what factors may cause you to need to urinate more frequently than normal.
We’ve also talked about the link between frequent urination and erectile dysfunction, as well as your options for controlling your urine flow, treating ED and improving your sexual health.
How Often Should You Urinate?
The number of times you urinate per day, as well as your total production, is mostly determined by your body’s state of hydration. It’s normal to urinate more frequently, have less cloudy urine and have a greater overall flow of urine when you drink more fluids, such as water.
While there’s no “perfect” number of times to urinate per day, it’s generally considered normal to urinate six to eight times every 24 hours. If you need to urinate more often than this, it could be a sign that you have a bladder health issue or habit that’s affecting your urinary health.
Needing to urinate more often than usual is referred to as frequent urination. When you need to urinate suddenly — for example, with just a few minutes of warning — it’s typically referred to as urgent urination.
Frequent urination can have a significant impact on your well-being and quality of life. You might need to frequently use the bathroom when you’re out with friends or your partner, affecting your ability to socialize and enjoy movies and live events.
Sometimes, frequent urination may cause discomfort in your bladder. When frequent urination occurs at night — an issue referred to as nocturia — it may affect your ability to maintain normal sleep patterns and cause you to feel tired during the daytime.
What Causes Frequent Urination?
So, what is frequent urination a sign of? A variety of different factors can cause or contribute to frequent urination, including common health conditions and medications used to treat them, as well as certain habits and lifestyle factors.
Common causes of frequent urination include:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Also referred to as prostate enlargement, this is a common medical condition that involves the growth of the prostate gland. It often occurs in middle-aged and older men. As the prostate grows, it may weaken the bladder wall and affect bladder function. This can cause frequent urination, difficulty controlling the emptying of urine and other issues, such as accidental leakage of urine.
Urinary tract infection (UTI). Infections can develop at several locations in your urinary tract, including your bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra — the tube that empties urine from your penis. Most of these infections develop when bacteria enter your urethra, according to MedlinePlus. UTIs can affect urination in several ways, including by causing frequent or painful urine flow, bloody urine and a burning sensation when you pee. If you have a UTI, you may feel like you need to urinate even if your bladder is empty.
Other kidney and urinary tract disorders. Other disorders that affect your kidneys and urinary tract may also cause bladder control problems, including the need to urinate on a more frequent basis than normal.
Nerve disease and nerve damage. Some diseases and injuries that cause damage to nerves in your penis, pelvis and surrounding area may affect your ability to control urine flow and contribute to issues such as frequent urination and urine leakage.
Consuming too much caffeine. Research suggests that caffeine is associated with an increased need to urinate, particularly in people who display existing overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms. You may notice that you need to pee more frequently if you consume lots of coffee, tea, energy drinks or other beverages that contain caffeine.
Other medical conditions and habits may also affect your need to urinate, including your use of alcohol and/or recreational drugs, anxiety disorders, poorly controlled diabetes, spine problems, stroke, tumors or growths in your pelvis and bladder conditions such as interstitial cystitis, according to an article published in the journal, Urology Annals.
Certain medications, including diuretics (commonly referred to as water pills), may also increase your need to urinate. Some artificial sweeteners used in low-calorie foods and beverages may also play a role in frequent urination.
In women, frequent daytime or nighttime urination can be caused by vaginitis — inflammation of the vagina that’s caused by an imbalance of yeast and bacteria. It’s also common for urination to increase during pregnancy.
Finally, there’s another factor that plays a role in your need to urinate — your daily fluid intake. If you drink a large amount of water, soda or other beverages, you’ll generally urinate more often than if you limit your fluid intake.
Does Viagra® Cause Frequent Urination?
Currently, there’s no evidence to suggest that Viagra causes frequent urination. In fact, research generally suggests the exact opposite — that Viagra may offer benefits for controlling urination in men with certain health conditions.
In a study published in the Journal of Urology in 2007, researchers found that men with prostatic hyperplasia and erectile dysfunction were less likely to experience lower urinary tract symptoms, as well as ED, after starting treatment with sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra).
Overall, there doesn’t appear to be a link between use of Viagra or other ED medications and an increased risk of frequent urination.
Is There a Link Between Male Frequent Urination and Erectile Dysfunction?
Frequent urination doesn’t cause ED or other sexual performance issues on its own. However, some medical conditions that may cause you to urinate often are associated with an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction.
For example, poorly controlled diabetes, prostate enlargement, spine health problems and use of radiation treatment are all potential causes of frequent urination. Many of these are also risk factors for erectile dysfunction.
Erections are all about healthy nerve function and blood flow. When you’re aroused, the nerves in your penis trigger the release of natural chemicals that expand your blood vessels and allow blood to flow into your penile tissue, increasing its size and firmness.
Some conditions that affect nerve function and blood flow may contribute to erectile dysfunction and frequent urination.
However, there isn’t a causal relationship between the two conditions, meaning ED won’t cause frequent urination, and vice-versa.
Our guide to the causes of erectile dysfunction provides more information about the factors that can increase your risk of developing ED, from physical health conditions to lifestyle factors such as tobacco use and alcohol consumption.
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What to Do About Frequent Urination
If you’ve recently noticed that you urinate more frequently than before, it’s best to reach out to your primary care provider for help.
Before visiting your provider, try to write down the times when you urinate over the course of a day. This is referred to as a voiding diary, and it may help your provider to understand why you need to urinate frequently.
Your healthcare provider will typically ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Make sure to let them know if you’ve experienced issues with frequent or excessive urination before, and if the issues were caused by a specific medical condition.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may perform one or several tests to identify the cause of your urinary health issues. Common tests for frequent urination include:
Urine culture testing
Pelvic or abdominal ultrasound imaging
Some of these tests require the use of specialized equipment, such as a cystoscope (a lighted tube that’s inserted into your urethra and bladder). Others may require you to provide a urine sample for analysis.
If your healthcare provider suspects that your urination issue is caused by a nerve disorder or damage to your nerves, they may perform one or several nervous system tests.
Many causes of frequent urination are treatable, either with medication, changes to your habits or a combination of approaches.
If you have a urinary tract infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic for you to take over the course of several days.
It’s important to finish all of the antibiotics you’re prescribed, even if you notice your symptoms improve before the end of the treatment period. Stopping treatment with antibiotics early could cause your infection to return and make treating it in the future more difficult.
Many other health issues that can cause frequent urination, such as prostate enlargement and diabetes, can be successfully treated using medication.
Some lifestyle-related causes of frequent urination, such as excessive caffeine consumption or alcohol use, can be treated by making simple changes to your habits. Your healthcare provider may recommend cutting down on your consumption of caffeine or limiting fluids before bed.
If you have frequent urination due to pelvic floor muscle problems after surgery, your healthcare provider may recommend performing exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles.
These exercises involve tensing the muscles under your bladder and bowel, as if you suddenly need to stop peeing. They’re often helpful for men with urinary incontinence.
Our guide to pelvic floor exercises shares sample exercises that you can use to strengthen the muscles around your bladder, as well as further information about the benefits of pelvic training for your bladder muscle function and sexual health.
Make sure to closely follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and let them know if you still need to urinate frequently after using medication, starting exercises or making other changes to your habits and lifestyle.
What to Know About Frequent Urination and ED
Frequent urination and erectile dysfunction are often caused by the same conditions, meaning it isn’t uncommon to deal with both at the same time. However, ED doesn’t directly cause frequent urination, and frequent urination doesn’t cause ED.
The good news is that both frequent urination and erectile dysfunction are treatable with lifestyle changes, healthy habits and, if appropriate, medication.
If you’re currently experiencing frequent or painful urination, it’s best to talk to your primary care provider for help. You can also access help for ED with our range of proven erectile dysfunction medications.
Want to learn more about treating ED before you start? Our guide to the most common erectile dysfunction treatments and drugs goes into plenty of detail on your options for dealing with ED, from sildenafil to newer, second-generation medications for erectile dysfunction.