If you need to urinate more than twice a night, you could have this condition.

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One question that has plagued me since I moved in with my boyfriend is: why does he always need to get up to go to the bathroom during the night? And why don’t I  have to?

It all comes down to a condition called “nocturia” which is the need to urinate frequently during the night, interrupting your sleep pattern.

According to research in The Journal of Urology, nocturia is more prevalent in women, with up to 44 per cent of us between 20-40 years-old getting up at least once a night to visit the bathroom.

RELATED:What the colour of your urine says about your body

While you shouldn’t worry if you’re waking up every now and then to pee during the night, getting up frequently could indicate you have an issue.

“Generally it isn’t considered a problem until people are getting up more than two times a night,” explains Dr Sam Hay, director of a Sydney medical practice.

“Some people get up frequently and see that as normal. The amount of times people need to get up during the night also goes up as you get older, which is something to keep in mind if you are getting up more often.”

The three types of nocturia

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, there are three different types of nocturia:

Nocturnal polyuria

This is when people urinate less during the day, and excessively at night. This is usually a problem with a person’s body clock, and it can also be due to sleep apnoea. There are also some other causes, including diabetes, kidney issues and heart trouble.

Bladder storage problems

Bladder storage problems happen when the bladder can’t store enough urine, or doesn’t empty properly. This means that some people have to go to the toilet more often, but don’t urinate much each time they go. One cause of bladder storage problems (in men) is prostate cancer.

Mixed nocturia

This is a mix of both nocturnal polyuria and bladder storage problems. It is often associated with chronic medical problems.

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Why this is happening to you.

The reason I don’t need to urinate during the night (yet my boyfriend does) is that our bodies have mechanisms to stop us from needing to go to the toilet repeatedly overnight, including a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) which prevents urine from being made.

If you are getting up frequently to go to the bathroom at night, there are multiple reasons why this can be happening to you.

“Some people have more active bladders than others, and the spasming of the bladder may make them need to urinate more frequently, this is usually a problem during the day too,” Dr Kate Gazzard, a Melbourne based practitioner, explains.

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Another reason could be that people are so busy during the day that they forget to drink water and then try to play catch up at night, therefore producing more urine in the evening.

The type of beverages you consume in the evening could also be responsible for why you need to get at night.

“There are drinks that produce more urine, like alcohol and caffine. They cause an increase in urine production. Also if you eat a meal close to bedtime you will have a higher sodium intake and this and then that can make you produce more urine at night,” Dr Hay explains.

Urinary Tract Infections are also a reason why women in particular may need to get up at night.

"Nocturia may be a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) especially in women - although they will usually have symptoms during the day such as urinary frequency, dysuria (pain on urination), lower abdominal pain, nausea, fevers etc (or might not necessarily have any of these symptoms)" Dr Gazzard says.

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The wider issue at hand.

There are also some other medical issues to look out for if you are going to the bathroom more than twice a night, especially if you have noticed a distinct change and it isn't a simple thing.

"Risk factors can include, obesity, high blood pressure, diuretics, snoring, restless leg syndrome, depression and diabetes" Dr Hay says.

Some recommendations for treating nocturia include limiting the amount of water you drink immediately before bed (keep hydrated throughout the day though), reducing the amount of tea, coffee and alcohol you consume in the evenings, also trying pelvic floor muscle exercises.

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If none of these work for you after a week or so, Dr Gazzard recommends booking an appointment with your GP. Before doing so though, you need to keep a diary:

"Keep a wee diary - how much do you drink, especially paying attention to caffeine and alcohol. How many times you wee during the day, how many at night, urine colour, any other symptoms. Do it for three to four days, then see your GP. The diary will give a good indication of fluid balance throughout the day, and what might be causing the problem. If there is anything concerning, the doctor might refer to a specialist such as a urologist (bladder/urinary tract surgeon)."

The colour of your urine can tell you  a lot about your body. Check out this gallery of what colours can indicate (info via The Cleeveland Clinic).

Dr Sam Hay is a director of a Sydney GP practice and a medical consultant on The Project and Embarrassing Bodies Down Under.

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