Why Am I Having Problems With Peeing?

Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on May 28, 2023
4 min read

When you have to pee, you probably don’t give a second thought to getting to the bathroom. But if you have problems with peeing -- pain, leaks, having to go more often, or not being able to go -- you might find it hard to think about anything else.

A number of health conditions can make it hard for you to pee -- or to keep from peeing. Some are minor, and some are more serious. Contact your doctor if you notice any changes with your pee, especially if it affects your day-to-day life.

Get to an emergency room if you have any of the following symptoms:

This article deals with some common reasons for problems with peeing.

If you leak urine and feel like you can’t control your bladder, you may have urinary incontinence (UI). There are several different types of this condition:

  • Stress incontinence. This happens when the muscles that keep urine in become weak. You may leak when you exercise, walk, bend, sneeze, cough, or lift something heavy.
  • Overactive bladder. Your brain tells your bladder to empty even when it doesn’t need to. This causes you to feel like you suddenly have to pee and it makes you go more often.
  • Overflow incontinence. This happens when your body makes more urine than your bladder can hold. It can also happen because your bladder isn’t able to empty properly, so it gets full and causes you to leak.

Urinary incontinence happens in both men and women. Reasons it may occur in men include an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.

In women, UI may occur because of pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, pelvic organ prolapse, and hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).

For both men and women, UI becomes more common as you age. Over time, your bladder muscle loses its ability to hold urine as well as it used to. Obesity can also lead to UI. Extra weight puts pressure on your bladder. This can make you feel like you have to pee before your bladder is full.

You can develop a UTI when bacteria get into any part of your urinary tract (bladder, urethra, and kidneys). When you have a UTI, it may burn when you pee. You might feel like you have to go more often. Also, the urge to pee may come on suddenly, but only a little urine comes out.

The prostate is a gland that’s part of a man’s reproductive system. It’s located just below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, which is the tube urine travels through from the bladder to the outside of the body. Certain conditions that affect the prostate can lead to peeing problems. These include:

  • Enlarged prostate. This is also known as “benign prostatic hyperplasia” (BPH). With this condition, you have to pee often, including during the night. You may leak urine, have a hard time starting to pee, and have a weak stream when you go.
  • Prostatitis. This is inflammation in or around the prostate. Prostatitis can cause pain during or after peeing. You may also feel the need to go more often and have a hard time holding it.

People with type 2 diabetes may have to pee often. When you have diabetes, sugar builds up in your bloodstream. Your kidneys have to work harder to remove the excess sugar. When they can’t keep up, the sugar goes into your urine and brings fluids from your body along with it. And, the more you pee, the thirstier you feel. As a result, you drink more fluids. That, in turn, makes you have to pee even more.

Diabetes can also lead to constipation and UTIs.

Certain STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, can cause pain when you pee.

Kidney stones are small, hard objects made up of minerals that form inside your kidney. When a kidney stone travels through your ureter (the tube that carries urine from your kidney to your bladder) it can cause urinary problems like:

  • Severe pain in the sides or back
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pink, red, or brown colored urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Passing small amounts of urine

Certain medications can cause problems peeing. Drugs that might contribute to bladder problems include antidepressants, sedatives, diuretics, high blood pressure medications, heart medications, muscle relaxants, and some antihistamines.

Many different conditions can cause a blockage in your ureter and make it hard to pee. A blockage can also cause blood in your urine. It can form for any of the following reasons:

  • A stone anywhere in the kidney, ureter, or urethra
  • Congenital problems (issues you’re born with) that affect how your urinary system is set up
  • Severe constipation
  • Endometriosis -- a condition in women that causes the tissue that lines the uterus to grow in other places inside the body
  • Tumors (cancerour or noncancerous)