Courtesy Jennifer Pauly
My wife went to the Women’s March in Washington this past Saturday, and I’m not sure what I’m most proud of—the fact that she stood up for her beliefs or that she went 10 hours without peeing. That’s right, the liberals were conservative with the commodes.
You have to understand though, in our household, using the potty is a recreational sport. Walking to and from the bathroom on a regular basis is how we log valuable Fitbit steps. So when she told me that she went most of her waking day without going, I was in awe, especially when you consider what Mark Gordon, MD, a urologist at the Suncoast Medical Clinic in St. Petersburg, Florida, told huffingtonpost.com: “A ‘normal’ urination rate is eight to 10 times a day.”
How Urination Works
An adult’s body can hold up to two cups of pee before the need to go becomes urgent. According to Focus magazine, the average person produces over six cups of urine every 24 hours, so it takes nine or 10 hours for the receptors in our bladders to scream, “Where’s the ladies room!?” Benjamin Brucker, MD, assistant professor of urology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Women’s Health. “Most of the time women can hold urine for three to six hours, but it really depends on the amount of urine that someone makes, which is determined by hydration status and fluid intake, and the actual size of the bladder.” The good news, so says sciencealert.com, if you do decide to hold it in, whether it’s because you’re at a protest, driving a long haul truck, or on a date, your body will oblige by closing the cylindrical sphincters in your bladder “to keep all of your urine from leaking into the urethra.” Of course, if you have to go, it may not be the worst thing, since apparently holding in pee makes you smarter.
Tips on Holding Urine In
Among the few ways to reduce the need to pee, my wife chose abstention. She simply went without liquid for much of the day, and, because caffeine is a diuretic, according to scicurious.scientopia.org, she took only a sip of coffee in the morning as opposed to downing her normal cask. If you’re a frequent pee-er, you could train your bladder to chill. “It’s okay to try to distract yourself and not give in to every slight urge,” says Brucker. This could potentially stretch your bladder a bit in a healthy way. “There is a small study out there that shows nurses, who may not have the opportunity to frequent the facilities, have slightly larger bladder capacities than age-matched controls.”
But Don’t Do It Too Often
Of course, holding it in for 10 hours was a one-off for my wife. She’s back to wearing out a path to the bathroom. And that’s a good thing, sciencealert.com tells us. If you hold it in a lot, you could weaken you bladder muscles, which can cause retention—the constant sensation of needing to go. “Your bladder can also become a breeding ground for bacteria if it’s regularly holding in urine, slightly increasing your chances of getting a bladder or urinary tract infection.”
If that isn’t enough to send you screaming to the bathroom, holding your pee raises ever so slightly the chance that your bladder may actually burst. “Often, that happened if the person was drinking a lot and the alcohol dampened the message to the brain that you gotta pee,” says sciencealert.com, trying to calm our nerves. So if you’re a teetotaling protestor, you should be fine.