Sometimes peeing slips down the to-do list [Photo: Rex Features] You’re mid-way through a Netfl...
What Happens To Your Body When You’re Too Busy To Pee?
You’re mid-way through a Netflix marathon and you totally need to pee but you’d really rather not hit pause in the middle of “Game of Thrones” (at least not before you find out if Jon Snow is back from the dead!)
We’ve all been there. So desperate to go you have to cross your legs and hope to hell you can make those last few paces to park your behind on the porcelain throne. Whether you’ve been so busy enjoying yourself you didn’t want to take five to pee, you’ve found your work flow or you just can’t face a stinky public toilet, sometimes taking a loo break slips down your must-do list. But surely that can’t be good for you?
We asked the experts what happens to your body, when you’re just too busy to pee…
So why is peeing so important anyway?
It just is, ok? Just ask Dr Helen Webberley, GP for Oxford Online Pharmacy "The bladder is like a sack made of muscle, and when it is empty it is a small deflated bag,” she explains. “As it fills the walls gently stretch and the bag expands. When the muscle fibres have stretched to a certain limit, it starts sending signals that you could have a wee when convenient. As they stretch more, the signals get stronger and stronger until the bladder can hold no more and it contracts to expel some of its volume.”
How long is it ok to hold it?
Because you know we’re busy and all. “Most people can hold it anywhere from a couple of hours up to six, however this varies on a number of factors,” advises Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health Medical Executive Director. These factors include pelvic floor strength, bladder capacity, fluid intake, medications (some can affect the bladder activity or urine volume) and previous medical history. And then there’s how much urine your body is actually making. “Urine production is determined by how hydrated you are and the amount of fluid you drink throughout the day and how much you sweat,” advises Hilary Boddie, medical expert at Healthspan.
What happens to your body if you hold it for too long?
Apart from the obvious. “If you regularly hold your urine for long periods, you can increase the risk of problems such as urinary retention, the inability to empty your bladder completely causing discomfort and pain,” explains Hilary Boddie. “Constantly holding your pee can weaken the bladder muscles and interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder. If the receptors aren’t working properly, the brain may not get the message that the bladder is full leading to urinary retention.”
What’s the worst case scenario?
“It is a complete myth that you can get bladder rupture from voluntarily holding in one’s urine, as in the end the bladder, being a powerful muscle, will take matters into its own hand – when you have to go, you have to go!” says Dr Kannan Athreya, Private General Practitioner with expert healthcare booking platform, Medstars.co.uk “However, you are increasing your risk of developing urinary infections, because you are creating an environment where any bacterial contamination has a bigger chance of multiplying and developing.”
Can you train your body to want to go less?
Say if you just can’t face that marathon walk to the ladies or you just need to finish one more episode of Making a Murderer. “Yes you can train your body, and indeed “Bladder Training ” is recognised as a medical tactic for those who have bladder sensitivity – you are encouraged to hold urine in a little bit longer each time in order to reduce the number of times you go to the toilet,” explains Dr Kannan Athreya. “It is also true that a healthy person can train his/her bladder to go less by holding on regularly, as this desensitises the nerve impulses that indicate “I am full, empty me!” Dr Athreya says this explains why some of us will have to go after every glass of prosecco while others can finish the entire bottle. Bathroom goals.
What can we do to stay bladder healthy?
According to Hilary Boddie there are a number of things you can do to keep things functioning well down there including:-
Drinking plenty of water “around 6-8 glasses a day - to flush out any bacteria from the urinary tract and help prevent bladder infections. Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration, resulting in concentrated urine and constipation which can both irritate the bladder.”
Watching your diet “To overcome an oversensitive bladder, avoid diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy drinks which can stimulate muscles in the bladder. Citric fruits and spicy foods can also aggravate a sensitive bladder. Make sure you include fibre in your diet by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Being constipated puts more pressure on the bladder.”
Perfecting your pelvic floors “Your pelvic floor muscles support the bladder so keeping them strong will help prevent your bladder from leaking. Lie on the floor with the knees bent and feet resting on the floor. Simply pull in and squeeze the pelvic floor muscles (as if you were trying to stop yourself from urinating). Hold this for a count of three. Relax for three seconds. Repeat this 10 times. Do this exercise three times a day then gradually increase the length of time you hold the squeeze by one second each week, until you reach 10 seconds.”