Is it dangerous to hold in your pee?

Ever find yourself holding in your pee? How dangerous is this habit, and how long can our bodies actually be holding it in for?

Is it bad to hold in your pee?
© Getty/Peter Dazeley
Is it bad to hold in your pee?

As a general rule of thumb, we should be urinating at least four to six times a day, but this also depends on the amount of fluids we've ingested. On some occasions, going about your sometimes hectic day could mean that you force yourself to clench your private parts to hold it all in...

Discover our latest podcast

But should be doing this? And if you find yourself doing this often, could it be dangerous for you? To find the answer to the aforementioned questions, we must first understand how the bladder really works.

Functioning of the bladder

The bladder is a little oval pouch that works in conjunction with your kidneys, ureters, urethral sphincters, and urethra. Together, they make up the urinary system. Throughout the day, pee is constantly trickling down from your kidneys and gathering into the bladder, which is made up of walls called the detrusor muscle.

These walls relax and expand as the bladder fills up with pee and then contracts when it is full enough to let it out, at which point the internal urethral sphincter opens to release the liquid.

However, when you are not ready to go number one, the brain sends signals to your internal sphincter to keep contracting to avoid any leakage until a more convenient time presents itself.

What can holding it in do to your body?

When you delay urination, you are exercising your pelvic floor muscle, but by overstimulating it with the added pressure of holding your pee in, you can actually be damaging it. At about 400-500 ml of liquid in your bladder, you start to feel an uncomfortable sensation indicating that you have to evacuate the liquid. Holding in your pee for too long can result in a very painful rupture of the bladder.

Although rather rare for this to happen, other more common side effects of overworked or weakened pelvic floor muscles as a result of delayed urination include:

  • an overactive pelvic floor
  • bladder pain
  • urgency
  • urinary incontinence.

So in the interest of long-term bladder health, it is probably not the best idea to make a habit of holding in your pee for too long.

Sleep deprivation: This is what happens to your body when you are sleep-deprived Sleep deprivation: This is what happens to your body when you are sleep-deprived