Doctors call it nocturia. Men call it a curse. Either way, nighttime urination is a common problem, particularly as we age.
Until recently, doctors usually blamed nocturia on benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and urologists often favored surgery to correct the problem. But many men who underwent a technically successful transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) still found themselves stumbling to the bathroom at night. Now we know why: New research shows that nocturia has many causes, and enlargement of the prostate is actually rather low on the list. It's a rude awakening, but it offers a rational approach to the future treatment of nocturia.
Boys and Girls Together
If nocturia was caused principally by BPH, it would be much more common in men than women. But many surveys demonstrate that the problem is equally prevalent in both genders. A survey of 400 American men and 479 women who were healthy and 60 years of age or older tells the tale: 65.2% of the men and 62.8% of the women reported nocturia. In addition, the number of nighttime trips to the bathroom was similar for both: About one-quarter of the subjects reported voiding two or more times in a typical night.
An Age-Old Problem
Gender does not account for nocturia, but age does. In both men and women, nighttime urination increases steadily over the years. A 12-month Austrian study of 1,247 women and 1,221 men illustrates the relationship: Below the age of 30, 3.1% of women and 3.4% of men reported nocturia; for ages 30-59, 7.2% of women and 5.7% of men experienced the problem, and at age 60 and beyond the figures were 26.7% for women and 32.4% for …