We’ve all been there: you have to go the bathroom, but you can’t. You’re either sitting in an important class where you don’t want to miss a thing, driving a car with no opportunity to pull over, or avoiding public restrooms because gross, and you hold your pee in. You sit there, squirming, wondering if you’ve ever been so miserable, counting the seconds until you get to a bathroom, hoping no one else is noticing your pee dance. Yeah, it feels like torture, but is doing that actually harming you in some way? As it turns out, kind of. Holding your pee in can actually do some pretty weird things to your body aside from making you feel uncomfortable as hell.
Your bladder is designed to hold 15 ounces of liquid urine, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s almost two cups! Anything beyond that is pushing it, and trust me, you don’t want to push it. We all have to hold our pee from time to time, which is totally fine and probably won’t result in these side effects, but when it becomes a repeat behavior? That’s when it becomes dangerous. Our bodies are weird, beautiful things that help us do a lot, but they can also do some funky things. After you read this, you’ll probably never want to hold your pee in again – and you shouldn’t! Avoid doing it as much as possible. Not convinced? Here are seven weird things that happen to your body after holding your pee in for too long:
You Can Get A UTIUrinary tract infections are caused by unwanted bacteria down there, and when your urine sits in your bladder for too long, that bacteria is sitting there too. When you pee, your urine, along with the bacteria, exits your body. If it's not leaving, it's there, possibly causing infections. Peeing more frequently is the number one tip in preventing UTIs. Just had sex? Go pee. Just went swimming? Pee, then go change into dry clothes. We all have to hold our pee from time to time, but when holding your pee too long becomes a repeat behavior, it can lead to bacterial infections in your urethra and bladder and those side effects are never any fun. Source: iStock
You Can Get Kidney StonesMuch in the same way holding your pee allows bacteria to accumulate and cause infection, it can also allow toxins and minerals to accumulate over time and crystalize to become stones. Literal, actual stones. Kidney stones develop in your kidneys (obviously), but then they have to go somewhere, right? Sometimes they get large enough to require surgery, but the small ones get expelled via your urethra when you pee. Ask anyone who's had them: it's painful as hell. Imagine peeing out a stone you can pick up in your hand! Ouch. Between the bleeding, discomfort, and hey - PEEING OUT A STONE - just go pee when you can.Source: iStock
You Can Get CystitisCystitis is an inflammation of your bladder walls and unfortunatley occurs more frequently if you have a vagina. The symptoms are similar to that of a UTI: pain when you pee, feeling like you have to pee more frequently, and a low grade fever because it is, similarly, a bacterial infection that effects the same area. Either way you split it, it sucks. Have your doctor assess whether or not it's cystitis. If left untreated, this could result in kidney infection, which is like a bacterial bladder infection, but on steroids. Not good. Source: iStock
It Can Weaken Your Bladder MusclesSounds counterintuitive because those are the muscles used to hold your pee, right? Well, it's true. You're going to wind up with a weaker pelvic floor. Those are the muscles that stop you from peeing when you engage in physical activity like running or when you laugh or sneeze. These muscles typically wear out after childbirth or aging, but lucky for you, if you hold your pee for too long as a repeat behavior, you can expedite that process! Your bladder walls get weaker as well. They aren't made for endurance, just for keeping it in long enough to get to a toilet. It doesn't work like the other muscles in your body where they get stronger with more frequent use, they get weaker. Sorry.Source: iStock
Your Bladder Can Become DistendedYour bladder is meant to hold 15oz of urine. It expands and contracts like any other organ in your body meant to contain liquid or semi-solid materials. So, when forced to carry more than two cups of liquid, your bladder expands to accomodate that volume of urine... that may or may not go back to normal size. I'm not saying this happens all the time, but it's definitely a possibility. When your bladder can't shrink back down to it's normal size and it's muscles stretch beyond their capacity, a catheter might be needed in order to replace the normal functions of your bladder. Not worth it, in my opinion. Your bladder should remain active, not a flop-sack full of loose pee.Source: iStock
You Pee Yourself More FrequentlyIt's so weird how holding your pee for the sake of not urinating as frequently yields the opposite as a side effect. When you hold your urine for too long, it weakens your urethral sphincter, which is the outtermost muscle used to control your urine. So, intstead of peeing all at once, you're more prone to having little spurts of urine throughout the day. Unfortunately, some of that may mean wetting yourself or having accidents triggered by outside stimuli like bendng your body the wrong way, jumping up and down, and coughing. Source: iStock
You Can DieSay what? It's true. Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman and astronomer, died from a burst bladder when he refused to excuse himself from a dinner party. He got home and was not able to pee, and the built up urine? Well, it killed him. It has been said that he ultimately died from Uremia, which is a condition in which urea is present in the blood. Yikes. I would say this is antiquated and no longer a problem except a woman died from holding her pee in a "hold your wee for a wii" contest. That, and a teenage girl who was toilet phobic died from holding it in for months. I hate that this needs restating, but go when you have to go. Don't die.Source: iStock
Are you someone who holds their pee forever or goes all the time? Have any of these things happened to you? Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.