What Causes Infrequent Urination?

The official word for infrequent urination is oliguria. It happens whenever your urinary output becomes less than 400 milliliters over the course of 24 hours.

Anuria is the term used to describe the absence of urine. This is when you’re releasing less than 50 milliliters (about 1.7 ounces) of urine within a 24-hour period.

The question is: is it dangerous? Well, if you’re not peeing enough, then it’s not considered normal from a physiological standpoint.

And since there are so many possible causes for this, it’s impossible to make a proper diagnosis over the internet. However, we’ll do our best to give you the most likely causes.

Dehydration – The Most Common Cause of Infrequent Urination

If you’re not peeing enough, then it’s probably because you’re not drinking enough water.

The average person needs a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day (more if you’re active).

Dehydration is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea since the body is releasing more fluids than it’s taking in. If you’re ill, then you need to be drinking more than the recommended daily amount of water.

Infection or Trauma

The next two possible causes are trauma or infection. While these are less typical causes of infrequent urination, they shouldn’t be ruled out. If you’re suffering from an infection, antibiotics should clear your symptoms.

Urinary Tract Obstruction

The second most common cause of this system just behind dehydration is a urinary tract obstruction.

At any point throughout your urinary tract, it’s possible for something to block the urine from flowing normally. This blockage can occur in the kidneys, urethra, bladder, or ureters.

Urinary tract obstructions are usually associated with other symptoms, including:

If you’re suffering any of these symptoms, and you haven’t been able to pee, then visit a hospital.


Certain medications can lead to infrequent urine. These include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and ACE inhibitors.

If a certain medication is causing you to excrete less urine, then voice this concern with your doctor. They will probably adjust your current dosage, or give you a new medication altogether.

Never change your dosage or switch medications on your own. Always consult a doctor first.

When Should You Go to a Hospital?

Infrequent Urination

Decreased urine output in itself isn’t a sign to go the emergency room.

It’s only a medical emergency if you’re going into shock, if you’ve experienced blunt trauma, or if you have an infection that’s getting progressively worse.

If you think that an enlarged prostate is obstructing your urinary tract, then seek immediate medical help.

“Anuria” develops when your urinary tract becomes blocked. Anuria requires immediate medical intervention to prevent your kidneys from becoming permanently damaged.

Finally, go to the hospital if you’re experiencing extreme dizziness, lightheadedness, or a very rapid pulse.

Diagnosing Oliguria

How do doctors diagnose infrequent urination? First, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your experience.

For this reason, keep notes on when your symptom started, and when it started to get worse.

This information can be useful to the doctor. It also helps to know approximately how many glasses of water you’re drinking each day.

During your appointment, your doctor might ask you for a urine sample. They will analyze the uric acid and protein levels in your pee, as well as analyze its color.

The sample can also tell them if you have an infection. Additional tests might include:

  • Renal Scans
  • CT Scans
  • Ultrasounds

Renal scans are used to test the functionality of your kidneys, while CT scans and ultrasounds can be used to check for urinary tract obstructions. Now let’s talk about your treatment options.

How to Treat Infrequent Urination

Depending on the severity of your symptom, there are a few different treatment options your doctor may prescribe you.

In serious cases of dehydration, they may give you an IV drip to help you rehydrate quickly.

If they suspect an infection, they may prescribe you a round of antibiotics. And for less severe cases of dehydration, you may be given a special drink that contains a lot of electrolytes.


Most people who have infrequent urination don’t experience any follow-up complications.

However, in some cases, oliguria can be linked to a more serious cause, including:

  • Heart Failure
  • Hypertension
  • Anemia
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Platelet Dysfunction

In these cases, more serious interventions are required. Speak with your doctor and they’ll give you more specific details on how to proceed.

Can You Prevent Oliguria?

Most of the time, yes. If your symptoms are being caused by not drinking enough water, then getting 8 glasses a day should solve the problem.

However, if it’s caused by something more serious like renal failure or an infection, then medical intervention is required.

Be on the lookout for additional symptoms like fever, nausea, and pain as these could indicate a more serious cause.

In Summary

To summarize, oliguria happens when the amount of pee that you’re excreting falls below 400 milliliters over a 24-hour period.

While this isn’t a medical emergency in itself, it should definitely get your attention. If your symptoms are getting worse or if they’re associated with pain, then go to a hospital.

If your infrequent urination isn’t associated with any additional symptoms and is chronic, schedule a visit with your doctor.

Ask a Question: If you want to ask a medical doctor a question that hasn't been answered in one of our articles go to: Ask a Medical Doctor About your Symptoms

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