Have you ever wondered what would happen if you hold your pee for a long period of time? Well, you most likely would pee on yourself. But what if you manage to days, or weeks or months without relieving yourself? Truth is, holding back pee for too long or too often can have harmful consequences for the body. But let’s get technical.
You do not necessarily realize it, but an adult bladder can hold up to half a liter – or 2 cups – of urine before feeling the need to evacuate. Your bladder wall is filled with tiny receptors that send a message to your brain when the bladder reaches its capacity.
Most of the time, and for those who have total control over their bladder, we satisfy this natural need fairly quickly. But some people sometimes hold back, sometimes too long. What can be the consequences for our body?
Once you have made the decision that you are too busy to pee, or that you currently can not afford it, the cylindrical sphincters of your bladder close tightly to prevent any leakage of urine into your urethra. These small muscles are perfect allies, but do not ask too much of them. Holding back too long and too regularly will weaken your small muscles, which could lead to urinary retention. Bladder problems prevent you from determining when you want to urinate, and how much urine that needs to be discharged. The urinary stream can become for example too weak, or you feel that you can not completely empty your bladder.
Holding large amounts of urine for a long period of time also exposes your body to potentially harmful bacteria, which can increase your chances of having a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection. Dangerous, but also deadly? Do you know about Tycho Brahe, a 16th century Danish astronomer and alchemist.
Brahe was a fantastic scientist, contributing to the exploration of supernovae, comets and planetary orbits. Nevertheless, he refused one day to leave a banquet to relieve himself, by “politeness”. When he got home, he found that he was no longer able to urinate. He died shortly after, when his bladder burst. Do not panic, Brahe’s bladder was already seriously damaged before these urinary problems, but know that it’s physically possible. Most of the time, if the urge becomes too urgent, the body ends up anyway ignoring the order to retain the urine, and you will pee on yourself. You are warned!