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  • When you gotta go, you gotta go.

  • And bygo,” I mean relieve yourself.

  • You know...of urine.

  • But sometimes -- and weve all done this--

  • youll hold your pee to finish one more email, or so you don’t miss the end of a movie,

  • or just because youre too lazy to walk to the bathroom from the couch.

  • Youve probably heard people say that that’s bad for you. And it is!

  • But only if you do it frequently and for a really long time.

  • And it almost always isn’t life-threatening.

  • If youre an adult, your bladder can hold up to about half a liter, or two full cups of pee,

  • before youll feel the need to ... let it go, as Elsa might say.

  • Your bladder wall is lined with receptors that can measure how full your bladder is,

  • and when it’s reached capacity, these receptors send your brain a signal that it’s time to hit the can.

  • Most adults have control over their bathroom urges,

  • meaning you can choose to pee right away after receiving these signals,

  • or to hold it for a bit if youre not near facilities.

  • If you do decide to hold it,

  • the cylindrical sphincters in your bladder close up tightly to keep all of the urine from leaking through your urethra.

  • But if you hold it in for long periods of time a lot,

  • like if youre a trucker who’s on the road for hours on end, for years,

  • then you might find yourself facing some not-so-fun long-term effects,

  • like urinary retention and increased risk of infection.

  • Urinary retention is the inability to empty your bladder completely.

  • Constantly holding in your pee can weaken your bladder muscles,

  • which can be the cause of urinary retention as you age.

  • Your bladder can also become a breeding ground for bacteria if it’s constantly holding large amounts of urine,

  • which slightly increases your chance of getting a bladder or urinary tract infection.

  • Which sounds bad enough, but what if you held it in for longer?

  • Think about Tycho Brahe, the 16th-century astronomer

  • who supposedly died from a bladder that burst after he held his pee for too long?

  • Well, long before you get anywhere near your bladder bursting,

  • odds are your body will ignore your brain's attempts to hold in the pee,

  • and youll just wet yourself.

  • However, in certain very rare, very extreme cases, bladders do burst.

  • When this happens, it’s almost always in people who already had a damaged bladder, like from a pelvic injury,

  • though there are a few reports of bladders bursting in people who seemed perfectly fine before.

  • In those cases, it’s generally because the person was been drinking a lot,

  • and the alcohol dampened the signal to their brain that was telling them they needed to pee, like RIGHT NOW.

  • But again, it’s incredibly rare.

  • So if you do hold your pee in a few hours longer than you should,

  • probably nothing super-terrible will happen.

  • Unless you consider wetting yourself in public super-terrible.

  • Totally understandable if you do!

  • Thanks for asking, and thanks especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who keep these answers coming.

  • If you’d like to submit questions to be answered,

  • or get these Quick Questions a few days before everyone else,

  • go to patreon.com/scishow.

  • And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe!

When you gotta go, you gotta go.

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What Happens When You Hold Your Pee?

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    Loïc posted on 2016/03/08
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