What Happens when You Hold the Pee?

rr3fd32You know what happens when you hold your pee? Urine trouble! Who is writing these?!

We’ve all been there. You’ve had too much to drink in too short a time, your bladder feels like it’s about to burst but… oh no!

You’re DJing your cousin’s quinceanera and they just requested the Cha Cha, so you can’t go anywhere for a while! You’re just gonna have to hold it.

Maybe you’ll do a little pee dance like you’re Pelvis Presley, or try to distract yourself, but ultimately, you have to pee.

So, just how bad is that for you? Should you wait it out to avoid embarrassment? Or should you bail on your prima’s 15th birthday to relieve yourself?

The average adult pees about four to seven times a day, because the average adult bladder can really only hold about sixteen ounces worth of liquid before feeling the urge to purge.

At night, your bladder can hold up to twice that before signaling that you have to pee, which is why waking up to pee like a racehorse is a pretty common experience.

But every body is different, and the amount of bladder fullness necessary to feel the pee reflect changes based on how hydrated you are, the actual size of your bladder, and most importantly, your bladder sensitivity.

See, when your bladder fills up, stretch receptors along your bladder walls send a signal through your spinal cord up into your brain. In response, your brain sends back a “reflex” signal, telling the detrusor muscle in your bladder to contract, which squeezes your bladder and creates an even stronger stretch reflex.

This feedback loop is what makes you have to pee. Your internal bladder sphincter, which is a muscle that is normally tightened against the intersection of your urethra and bladder, opens up and is ready to let loose.

But hold on a second, if that’s all there was to it, we’d have no control over our urination. Luckily, there’s something in the way. The external sphincter, which is the last line of defense against pee pants. As long as our external sphincter, also called the “distal sphincter” is healthy and functional, you can technically hold your pee forever. But you won’t.

See, holding your pee in is kind of like an unstoppable force going against an immovable object. Either your external sphincter or your detrusor muscle are going to win the fight, and spoiler.

Unless you’ve had bladder cancer, or bladder surgery, or if you’ve had a Radical Cystectomy with an Orthotopic Neobladder, which is when doctors remove your bladder and replace it with a new one made out of your small intestines… if none of those things apply to you, then your detrusor muscle is going to win. You’re gonna pee alllll over yourself. Otherwise, if your bladder is structurally weak, it can rupture against the seal of your external sphincter, filling your abdomen with urine that will have to be cathetered out.

So if you’ve got a healthy bladder then nothing to worry about except peeing yourself, right? Wrong.

What you should be worried about are urinary tract infections.

See, instead of thinking of your bladder like a five-star hotel swimming lounge, it’s kind of more like a dirty pond. The longer you let the pond stagnate, the more likely it is to build up bacteria, which can result in a urinary tract infection. That’s almost certainly E. coli. And besides being an infection down there, which is already unpleasant, it can also cause you to feel like you have to pee when your bladder is empty!

So, in a way, if you keep holding your pee, you’ll end up feeling like you have to pee FOREVER!!!

The other side effect of regularly holding in your pee is called “urinary retention” which is when your detrusor muscle is unable to fully evacuate the bladder. So every time you pee, you don’t get it all out.

Here’s the point: holding your pee is natural, and we do it pretty much every single night. In any single case, for a healthy adult, holding your pee isn’t too big of a deal, and in the worst case scenario, you’ll probably just pee yourself. But if you already have bladder issues, or if you regularly refuse to pee when your body demands it, then you’re very much at risk of developing a UTI, or another inconvenient medical problem. You could even burst your bladder in some cases.

So, do yourself a favor, pee freely and don’t get pissed off. Remember: peeing is #1!

Leave a Reply