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  • When you gotta go, you gotta go, and by "go", I mean relieve yourself, you know, of urine.

  • But sometimesand weve all done thisyoull 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 chances 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 drinking a lot, and the alcohol dampened the signal to their brains 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 happenunless 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

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When you gotta go, you gotta go, and by "go", I mean relieve yourself, you know, of urine.

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B2 US bladder pee urinary retention urine bursting

What Happens When You Hold Your Pee?

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    Loïc posted on 2021/07/19
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