Is It Actually Dangerous to Hold in Your Pee?


If you’ve ever been on a long road trip or refused to take a bathroom break during a captivating movie, you are intimately familiar with the limits that you can push your bladder to when you really have to go. The bladder is an incredibly adaptable organ, which can hold up to 2 cups or 15 ounces of urine at a given time. Even more impressive is that the bladder will trigger a muscle response to help you hold it in during those times when you simply can’t get to the bathroom. So, the good news is that it’s unlikely that you’ll lose bladder control by holding it too long, since your body knows to tighten up to prevent leaks through the urethra. Still, there are problems that can develop over time if you make a habit of pushing yourself to the limit every time you’ve gotta go. Let’s get to know more about what your body goes through when you have the extreme urge to urinate and what you can do to ensure healthier bladder function for years to come.

Why do we pee, anyway?

Our bodies are primarily composed of water, but there is a limit to how much liquid we can hold. It’s necessary to hydrate throughout the day, but there must be an excess of liquid to filter toxins from the bloodstream in the kidneys. The byproduct of this filtration is urine, which is held in the bladder. Urination is the primary method of detoxification in the body, making it an essential bodily function for your health.

What happens when you hold it?

Your bladder has a threshold that indicates when it’s time for the nervous system to send signals to your brain to trigger the sensation that you need to pee. If you hold it in, you might feel the urge to urinate become stronger, maybe even bordering on painful. Every once in a while, holding in your pee will do no harm other than the annoying sensation that you have to go. If, however, you have a job that doesn’t allow you to get to the bathroom when you need to, you could be doing damage to your bladder and the muscles within it. Like any other muscles, the cylindrical muscles that prevent urine from leaking out of the bladder can become overworked and overstretched. Therefore, excessive bladder strain could lead to long-term issues with bladder control. In addition, holding your urine in can raise the risk of infections in your bladder, urinary tract, and kidneys, so you will not want to push your limits too often. On average, healthy individuals will urinate 4-10 times daily.

What if you can’t pee in public?

For some, urinating in public can be a problem, even when the urge to relieve the bladder is strong. This type of pee shyness is not uncommon, and it may be treated through both physiological and behavioral therapies. In some cases, simply running the faucet while you’re in the stall can be enough to relieve your shyness.

If you want to learn more interesting facts about your health, check out more of the MeMD blog. You can also rely on MeMD for remote medical exams when you need medical care for minor ailments, like urinary tract infections, without the wait.

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