This article was medically reviewed by Shonda Hawkins, MSN, a member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on March 29, 2019.
Picture this: You enter a movie theater. You’re so excited to see the movie. But before you even think about locating the exact theater where your movie is playing, you look for the nearest bathroom. Or this: You’re about to buy plane tickets for a long overdue vacation somewhere tropical, somewhere exotic, but you wouldn’t dare book a window seat. You need the aisle for its easy access to the restroom. And you know not to wing it on road trips, especially after lunch — you always, always hit the bathroom before getting back in the car.
This is because you always, always, always have to pee. Why did the universe curse you with this plague? Turns out, there’s some science behind this—plus a few ways to distance yourself from yet another public stall:
- Your perception of “always” might be off.
- You really could have a small bladder.
- You’re drinking too little water.
- You have an infection or kidney stones.
- Your pelvic-floor muscles are weak.
- Your bladder is legit overactive.
- You already take other meds.
- You could have diabetes.
- You’re freezing.
- Something more serious is going on.
- BHealth Blog
- Possible Causes of Frequent Urination
- Interview Transcript
- Little Boys Peeing On the Floor and Not IN the Potty Is a Big Deal!
- Ok, so here’s my five tips to get boys to pee IN the toilet!
- Check Your Urine! What Your Pee Says About Your Health
- Pale straw color to dark yellow
- Amber or honey colored
- Syrup or brown ale colored
- Pink to reddish-color
- Blue-green color
- Foaming or fizzing
- Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Hold in Your Pee
- Is it safe to hold your pee? Five possible complications
Your perception of “always” might be off.
It may sound like a lot, but peeing roughly eight times a day is normal, says Betsy A. B. Greenleaf, DO, a urogynecologist based in New Jersey. “Even though it’s annoying,” she adds, “getting up once during the night is also considered normal.” If you’re frustrated by how much time you spend going to and from the restroom, consider keeping a diary to log your bathroom breaks. When you actually tally up your trips, what feels like a lot might be totally normal.
You really could have a small bladder.
It’s a classic excuse among frequent pee-ers: “I just have a small bladder!” Turns out, there’s some truth to this. “Anatomically, everybody can be different, just like some people are tall and some people are short,” Greenleaf says.
Most bladders hold about two cups of fluid. If you’re going to the bathroom frequently and producing less than that, that’s probably not normal, says Dr. Tamara Bavendam, MD, program director of the Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And yes, you should actually measure. Grab a container and see if you’re hitting one and a half to two cups, she says. (You may want to wait until you’re home alone for this particular science experiment.)
The good news for the small bladdered is that you can train yourself to hold more fluid. “When it’s full, it can stretch,” Greenleaf says. In tests of bladder capacity, teachers and nurses—people with limited time to hit the toilet—consistently rank the highest, she says. “Some people have this idea that it’s not good to hold urine in, so when they get the urge they run to the bathroom,” Greenleaf says. “That’s the opposite of stretching. If you give into the urges too often, you are training the bladder not to hold as much.” (Just don’t hold it so long that it starts to hurt.)
You could be inadvertently doing this if you’ve preemptively started emptying your bladder more frequently in just-in-case scenarios, like in hopes of warding off leakage, say, before a workout, Dr. Bavendam says. “A change in your habits to try to prevent leakage can contribute to this cycle of going more and more often, and then you feel like you need to go frequently.”
To train your small bladder to go longer between restroom breaks, Greenleaf recommends something called “timed voiding”:
• Urinate every 30 minutes for a day or two, whether you have to go or not.
• Add 15 minutes to the regimen: Urinate every 45 minutes for a day or two.
• Keep adding 15 minutes to this regimen, until over time you will have stretched the bladder out.
Speaking of going to the bathroom…is your #2 normal?
You’re drinking too little water.
Understandably, if you spend a lot of time thinking you have to pee, you might be inclined to dehydrate yourself just a touch. If you don’t drink as much, you won’t have to go as often, right? Turns out this way of thinking is bladder sabotage. “When you drink less, the urine becomes more concentrated, and the more concentrated it is the more irritating it can be to the bladder, which can trigger the sensation that you have to go more often,” Greenleaf says. “It you drink more fluids, you may actually be able to hold more, because the more dilute the urine is the less irritating it is to the bladder.”
Of course, you’ll also be rushing to pee if you really overdo it on the water, so just drink enough to keep your urine a light, straw-colored yellow, Dr. Bavendam says. (Stay hydrated with one of these insulated water bottles.)
You have an infection or kidney stones.
Both a urinary tract infection and the little crystal formations known as kidney stones can irritate the bladder (in the case of stones, it’s when they pass through the urinary tract and approach the bladder), increasing how often you feel you have to pee. Both usually also come with other symptoms, so you should get a hint that something’s up. “Usually a kidney stone will cause a lot of pain in the back or sides,” Dr. Bavendam says. “Typically with UTIs, the classic sign is urgency, feeling like you need to pee really badly, and it also usually hurts to urinate.”
Your pelvic-floor muscles are weak.
The stronger those down-there muscles, the easier it is to hold urine in, Greenleaf says. “A lot of women really don’t know how to tighten or relax the pelvic-floor muscles,” Dr. Bavendam says. Classic mistake: You get a strong urge to go and you literally run to the loo. “When you’re running, your body’s focused on running, not using your muscles to hold urine in your bladder,” she says. “Instead, it’s better to learn how to use your muscles to tighten the pelvic-floor area, let the urge subside, and walk to the bathroom.”
Yes, we’re talking about Kegel exercises. If you don’t already know, the exercises are performed by tightening and releasing the muscles you’d use to stop the flow of urine without moving anything else in your body. You can get the full scoop here. (Plus, here are 5 kegel exercise mistakes you’re probably making.)
This is especially useful advice for women after pregnancy and childbirth. Miraculous milestones, sure, but both can do very real damage and stretching to muscles and tissue, including the bladder.
There’s evidence women would fare better in the urinary department if more attention was paid to recovery, Dr. Bavendam says. “If you injured your leg muscle, you would work at rehabilitating it, but that has never been a part of the standard practice after childbirth,” she says. “Yes, a doctor might tell you to do your Kegels, but how does a woman really figure that out amongst taking care of her child and going to work? It can have a tremendous impact, but it has to be prioritized as being important to a woman’s long-term health.”
Your bladder is legit overactive.
If you’re going a lot more often than every few hours, eight times a day, you might qualify as having an overactive bladder. It’s a condition more and more women find themselves in as they age, possibly because our nerves age along with us, Greenleaf says. We’re more likely to have other medical conditions that also affect how often we need to go, she explains, including back problems that could lead to vertebrae pushing on nerves that then make the bladder feel full.
Your doctor might want to test the strength of your stream or use an ultrasound to see if your bladder is emptying completely, Dr. Bavendam says. “An even more sophisticated test can measure bladder pressure for people who have had unexplained symptoms for a long time,” she says. If pelvic floor exercises and adjusting fluid intake don’t make a difference, prescription meds might help the bladder relax into holding more urine.
You already take other meds.
Water pills or diuretics, often used to treat high blood pressure, “can cause the kidneys to make a lot of urine really quickly,” Dr. Bavendam says, which can send you rushing to the bathroom on the double. Another class of meds called anticholinergics, which are used to treat anxiety and depression, among other problems, can keep the bladder from emptying completely, she says, thereby leaving you feeling like you’ve gotta go again when you just went.
You could have diabetes.
If you’ve ruled out other causes, there’s a chance your constant peeing is due to diabetes. If your blood sugar’s high, the kidneys won’t be able to process all of it, and some can spill into the urine. That sugar will essentially pull more water out of you, Dr. Bavendam says, so you’ll be generating more pee. Even eating food or candy with a lot of sugar is enough to make you go more frequently. “You could go to the bathroom every hour and still see two cups every time,” she says. “That’s not a bladder problem, it’s a problem with the amount of urine you’re producing.”
When the temperature drops, your body wants to do everything in its power to keep you warm. “Part of that process involves constricting the blood vessels in your extremities, to keep body heat from leaving,” Greenleaf says.
But, she says, “the body is a unit.” Constricted vessels in your feet, hands, legs, and arms shifts more blood to your core, which increases blood pressure in the vessels there. Then, your body reacts to that elevated blood pressure, wanting to normalize it. It does this by getting rid of extra fluids, just like some common meds for high blood pressure, in a process called diuresis.
“Because you are physically making more urine, the bladder is filling more quickly and frequently, so you need to pee more,” Greenleaf says. When it’s all due to the weather? Cold diuresis.
Something more serious is going on.
Small bladder or not, many of us just figure the way we pee is…the way we pee. But a sudden change in frequency or a really powerful urge is something you should bring up with your doc, as it could be a sign of underlying health problems, Greenleaf says. Herniated discs, for example, may be compressing the nerves. In some people, peeing a lot can be the first sign of multiple sclerosis. Tumors growing in the abdomen could press on the bladder. Luckily, these are all rare, but just to be safe, don’t chalk it up to simply getting leakier with age.
Ellen had never had bathroom issues. But as she approached 45, she realized she was using the bathroom more and more often during work, often racing to the women’s room only to release a small amount of urine. She chalked it up to stress for a while, but when it continued to happen, and even started causing her to be late to meetings, she started to take more notice.
“I thought I was too young for bladder issues,” she said. “But then I went to my doctor and he told me he sees this problem all the time in women my age.”
Going to the bathroom 6-8 times per day is normal, and if you are very active and drinking lots of water, even 10 times a day may be natural for you. But if you’re running to the bathroom more than that, you may want to visit your doctor to see if you have one of the conditions below. The need to use the bathroom often is very common, and can happen for various reasons. Read on for some of the more common reasons you may be rushing to the bathroom more often than you used to.
Possible Causes of Frequent Urination
Overactive bladder, also known as OAB, is the classic cause of needing to use the bathroom frequently. People with this condition not only need to use the bathroom frequently, but often times it feels very urgent, like they need to go right NOW. Overactive bladder is caused by spasms that occur in the bladder, causing your bladder to contract involuntarily, even when your bladder may not be full, or you just went to the bathroom. There are many treatments available for overactive bladder, including behavioral modifications, medications, and simple in-office procedures.
Urinary Tract Infection
Most people have, or likely will, experience at least one urinary tract infection in their life. Urinary tract infections often include a burning sensation when you urinate, as well as a frequent need to urinate that can sometimes include bladder leakage. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent them, and if you do get one, they are easily treatable (even from home!).
When the minerals in your bladder become too concentrated, they can develop into stones that can lead to pain, bloody urine, and frequent urination. These stones typically pass out of the body on their own, but sometimes need to be surgically removed by a doctor if they become lodged in your bladder. Be sure to stay well hydrated and eat a healthy diet to ensure your urine does not become too concentrated.
Frequent trips to the bathroom are a classic sign of diabetes. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, or are worried that this may be a sign of the disease, consult your doctor right away. If you find that you do have diabetes or pre-diabetes, it’s important to get it under control. Many times this can be accomplished with changes to diet and exercise, but medications are also available if you need them.
If you’re carrying around extra weight, it may be contributing to you frequent bathroom trips. Those excess pounds place extra pressure on your bladder, which can cause you to need the bathroom more frequently. Your diet may also be contributing. Try keeping a bladder diary and start incorporating more exercise into your routine. Among other things, you may see your bladder health problems improve.
Growing a baby is an incredible thing. But not so much for your bladder. A growing baby and extra weight put pressure on your bladder, and can also weaken your pelvic floor muscles. Many pregnant women find themselves using the restroom more than they used to, which is completely normal. Many times this resolves after childbirth, but it you’ve had a baby and still find you’re racing to the bathroom every half hour, consider seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist. They’re specialized in helping you to maintain the health of your pelvic floor muscles (the ones that support your bladder, bowel and uterus) and can help you strengthen your muscles so that you don’t constantly need the bathroom.
Changing hormones can wreak havoc on your body, and your bladder. Menopause can cause you to lose elasticity in your bladder, leading to irritation. It can also impact the nerves that control your bladder, leading to Overactive Bladder. Plus, over time, our pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken if not properly cared for, which can cause you to need the bathroom more often than not. Again, a physical therapist can be a life saver here, helping to show you moves that can strengthen your pelvic floor and get things back to normal.
When a man’s prostate becomes too big, it can cause a blockage of urine, which results in an overactive bladder. Men may experience nighttime awakenings to use the bathroom (nocturia), frequent trips to the bathroom, or even a weak urine stream. There are medications that can help with this, and in more severe cases, surgery may be an option.
While less common, frequent urination can be a sign of bladder cancer. Other symptoms of bladder cancer may also include the presence of blood in the urine. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor right away to determine the cause.
IC is a condition that is often hard to diagnose, since it has many of the same symptoms as other conditions. Symptoms typically include overactive bladder (urinary urgency and frequency), but also pelvic pain, which typically isn’t a symptom of OAB. Most IC patients also do not experience urinary incontinence, which is more common in OAB patients. If you feel you may have Interstitial Cystitis, talk with your doctor about the different tests that can be done to diagnose the condition, and the treatment options available to you.
Nocturia is defined as the need to awaken more than 1 x per night to use the bathroom. While there are many things that may contribute to nocturia, it’s typically caused by nocturia polyuria, which is when the kidneys produce too much urine. While waking up a few times to use the bathroom may seem harmless, it can have a very negative effect on quality of life due to lost sleep and resulting grogginess the following day.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options for frequent urination. The first step is to identify the root cause of the problem. If you find yourself needing to use the bathroom more than 8-10 times per day, talk to your doctor about it. He’ll help you find a diagnosis for the condition and together, you can find a way to treat it.
Dr. Jones: Wait, can we stop at the next gas station? Yes, I know we stopped at the last one but this is your bladder speaking and maybe it’s time to get some help. This is Dr. Kirtly Jones from Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Utah Health Care and this is your bladder on The Scope.
Announcer: Covering all aspects of woman’s health, this is The Seven Domains of Woman’s Health with Dr. Kirtly Jones on The Scope.
Dr. Jones: Urinary incontinence is common in women, as many as 30% of women have incontinence for one reason or another. Babies moved your bladder around or you have an overactive bladder. Incontinence pads are a billion dollar business. But if your primary care provider can’t help or you have more complicated medical issues maybe you need to see a urologist.
Today in The Scope Radio studio we’ll be talking to Dr. Sara Lenherr. Dr. Lenherr is a urologist at the University of Utah and she’s going to help us understand some of the more complicated reasons for bladder problems. She has a special interest in neurology, let’s talk about how our brain and our bladder communicate.
Dr. Lenherr: The brain and the bladder have a really important communication process that needs to occur and basically the bladder is designed to store urine as a vessel until your brain tells it that it’s okay to go to the bathroom, like when you’re near a bathroom. And then the sphincter is designed to hold urine in place. Again, when you’re able to get to the bathroom in time.
Sometimes in some medical conditions and other things that have happened with pelvic surgery or other types of vaginal deliveries with babies, that communication can get disrupted and so we need to pay special attention to that type of communication.
Dr. Jones: I always admired dogs who could put a little here and put a little there and do exactly what they wanted and when. But when that’s not working I thought only men went to urologists. You know, for their prostate problems or those guy things. So urology for girls? For women?
Dr. Lenherr: So that is a really common perception and actually women have bladders too and they need to be pee too and urologists are specially trained to take care of the bladders pretty much exclusively and so we’re here to help both men and women.
Dr. Jones: Great. So I’m an OBGYN and in our department we see a lot of women with urinary problems and we can fix a lot of them. But we’re not very good for those women with complex medical problems. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Dr. Lenherr: So women have many different sorts of disorders that can disrupt the way the bladder works. The common ones are ones that disrupt the signals that go back and forth between the bladder and the brain. And also there are signals that make too much urine, so some women have heart disease which causes their kidneys to actually make urine and shift that around at the wrong time, and so they need to go more frequently and urgently because they’re just making more urine.
There are many different types of conditions that affect the way the bladder works and really with an in-depth evaluation with a specialized urologist is really useful in order to figure out do we need to work on the bladder squeezing too much at the wrong time? Or is it a problem with the sphincter being too leaky, causing you to leak when you don’t want to?
Dr. Jones: Well I can see that really takes some specialty training and you did a specialty fellowship in this area?
Dr. Lenherr: Yes, so there’s a new specialty that came out a couple of years ago called, “Female Pelvic Medicine Reconstructive Urology” and we specialize in basically bladder function and how the bladder and the brain communicate. In order to evaluate how the bladder and the brain communicate frequently we perform what’s called, “urodynamic evaluation” where we study the bladder pressures and the sphincter pressures, the urethral pressures, and figure out how they coordinate and communicate with different sensations.
Dr. Jones: Well we’re really glad you’re here at the University of Utah for all of us who are getting a little older, having a few more medical problems, and don’t have the bladder that we want. Voluntary control of the bladder is a beautiful thing, but if it’s not working for you, we and Dr. Lenherr can help.
Announcer: TheScopeRadio.com is University of Utah Health Sciences Radio. If you like what you heard be sure to get our latest content by following us on Facebook. Just click on the Facebook icon at TheScopeRadio.com.
At this month’s Women in the World Summit, Oprah boldly declared “It’s the year of the woman!” assuring a sold-out theater of fierce females, “We can change the world!” And I believed it. Between speakers, with an extra inspired pep in my gate, I sauntered over to the restroom while Oprah’s words sang in my ear. We can make magic happen! I thought to myself. We are mothers! Bosses! Unicorns! We can do it all and look better doing it than the boys!
It only took one small moment for my feelings of lady pride to come crashing to a deafening halt. There, greeting me in the stall was a toilet…covered in pee. Women, I ask you: Why do we care more about avoiding a perfectly clean toilet seat than we do about how leaving behind our own mess will make other women feel?
Listen. I know our gender has much bigger fish to fry than bathroom etiquette—like, say, gender inequality, sexual harassment, unequal pay…the list goes on. Still, nearly every day, I find myself mystified by a soiled toilet. Stray droplets stare back at me, taunting me with arrogance as if to say: “My owner thinks she’s better than you. Deal with it.”
That’s when I have to make a choice: Do I layer an irresponsible amount of paper on top and pretend not to notice when I emerge with a damp booty and disdain? Or do I tempt my poor quad strength with squatting, which will inevitably lead to an even bigger mess—mostly on my thighs?
Neither option is ideal. And the fact that I even have to be in this situation makes me wonder why as women, we’re not being more kind to each other. How can we stand together, cheering rallying cries to uplift one another one minute—and then, in private, leave behind a piddle for the next woman to deal with?
This might not sound like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But in my opinion, this is a matter of human decency. Women are supposed to bolster each other up—be one another’s best cheerleaders. But we can’t show off our womanhood solidarity with pride if we’re literally pissing on…each other. (Sorry for the visual.)
And it turns out that, scientifically speaking, there’s actually no real reason to squat and leave a mess in the first place. A toilet seat that appears clean is actually harmless. Unless—and bear with me for a graphic second—your open wound comes in contact with someone else’s infected blood (which you’d be able to um, see), you’re not going to contract a disease, explains Philip Tierno, MD, Professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU. In short: “It’s very difficult to pick up anything from a toilet seat,” he says. So, at least when it comes to science, you actually don’t need to attempt to balance over a clean bowl while making a mess on yourself—and for the woman behind you.
Even if you don’t agree with medicine—the idea of sitting atop a stranger’s heinie heat simply grosses you out—I’m not here to judge you. (After all, none of us should judge each other.) But if you are going to do whatever you can to avoid sitting directly on the seat, allow me to kindly remind you of the refrain many of us we were taught in nursery school: If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat. Or at the very least, use seat covers and then flush them away.
Studies have shown that practicing kindness can have a profound effect on our own happiness. It creates a positive feedback loop—do nice things, feel giddy, make others jazzed, get more kindness back. Starting the cycle of leaving behind your bladder-y bits also creates a feedback loop—but a negative one. When I’m met with a seat covered in pee, it makes me so enraged that I want to flush my “future is female” t-shirt down that very toilet I’m too afraid to touch. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can show each other the love and reverence we deserve.
Women: we can change the world. But I’d like to propose that first, we promise ourselves that we will no longer stand for uncivil bathroom etiquette. If the toilet seat was clean when you walked in, it is your obligation in our universal sorority to leave it as the last neighborly woman left it for you. Together, we must vow to no longer stand for unmannerly behaviors. In fact, we will no longer stand, period. This all changes today. Who will sit with me?
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Little Boys Peeing On the Floor and Not IN the Potty Is a Big Deal!
I cringe talking about this topic, (even though I do talk about potty training tips often!) but I know lots of moms struggle with their boys peeing on the floor or around the toilet — but not IN the toilet.
It can cause stinky bathrooms and make keeping the bathroom clean an undesirable task.
Oh, and if your child won’t poop in the potty, you can find some mom-to-mom help right here. You’re welcome!
I had a few “aha”moments with this issue not too long ago.
I have two boys.
For some reason, a barbaric desire has come out of each of them to “mark their territories” in our bathrooms.
Sometimes I would find the “evidence” by accident.
A very, yucky, cold and wet accident that I stepped in — barefoot.
Must we really have this conversation?
Unfortunately, we do.
To hopefully help at least few moms overcome this struggle and not be fearful to walk into their bathroom with bare feet.
I mean really. We should be able to walk into our bathrooms without fear of unpleasant findings. That’s why we scrupulously clean them!
Ok, so here’s my five tips to get boys to pee IN the toilet!
Bribe your boys.
I do this very many, childhood bad habits.
Biting nails? I bribe.
Sucking thumbs? Unashamedly bribe.
Peeing on the floor? I bribe for boys to aim for the toilet bowl.
Offer your son a prize for every day (or every week) he successfully avoids peeing on the floor or sprinkling the toilet seat.
I definitely offer prizes for keeping the toilet seat dry during the week!
If at anytime during the day there is evidence that one of my sons missed the mark (LOL!), then they don’t receive the prize.
NO matter how many crocodile tears they cry, I don’t reward them for peeing on the floor again.
I don’t reward them for peeing on the toilet seat again.
And one day their wife will thank me. ;0)
Rewards, prizes or bribes can be parent’s choice. Stickers, snacks, extended bedtimes, movies etc. Whichever rewards you think work best!
Give him something to “aim” for.
This tip hones in on that boyish, free spirit. This parenting tip doesn’t make your son feel like they are limited in their bathroom exercises.
Nope, it gives them something fun to look forward to — and a task.
Easy-peasy target practice is accomplished by tossing in one square of toilet paper and prompting your son to “shoot” the square. That’s it.
Sometimes the simplest tips are the most effective ones!
If you’re at home, you can also use cheerios!
But, toilet paper is almost always available — in public and at home.
Give consequences for not peeing in the toilet.
Nothing harsh, but creative consequences.
A creative consequence could be something like…every time he misses the mark, he has to do a light clean-up of the bathroom.
This is actually really good parenting!
Because you’re teaching your child an important life skill — cleaning up after himself!
There’s nothing like cleaning up your own mess to encourage you to stop making them!
Have you struggled with getting boys to pee in the potty? What worked for you?
Write me and let me know or connect with me on social media!
Check Your Urine! What Your Pee Says About Your Health
Your urine is probably something you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. Before it even swirls out of sight down the toilet, you’ve probably already moved on to your next order of business. If anything, the urge to pee can be an annoying inconvenience that requires you to get out of bed early in the morning or sneak out of a movie theater mid-show. But as mundane as it may seem, your pee provides significant insight into the health of your body. The color, smell, and consistency of your urine can reveal your hydration levels, what foods you’ve been eating, and can alert you to any hidden health problems.
Historically, a person’s urine was one of the key ways to determine what was happening inside the body. Urine removes toxins and water-soluble wastes from the body including yeast, bacteria, and excess protein and sugar. It can provide a simple reminder of what you had for dinner last night (hello, asparagus pee), but it can also act as a warning sign of an internal infection or even cancer. Next time you need to unload your bladder take an extra moment to give your urine more than a disinterested glance and keep an eye out for the following indications.
Your pee can reveal a lot about your health. | iStock.com
If your pee is no different than the toilet bowl water, it may be a sign you’re actually drinking too much water. Didn’t think this was possible? While article after article touts the importance of drinking plenty of water, there are some rare but dangerous risks that come along with drinking more than enough H2O, including diluting your body’s necessary salt supply.
Pale straw color to dark yellow
Transparent pee could be a sign you’re actually drinking too much water. | iStock.com
As along as you stay within the spectrum of very pale, straw colored urine and a darker yellow shade, you can rest assured that your body is at a healthy hydration level. A very light yellow sample means you are drinking ample water and your system is healthy and well hydrated. If your pee is dark yellow, you are at a normal water level but should drink some water soon.
Amber or honey colored
Is your pee a little too gold? | iStock.com/Fotofid
You may notice your pee in the morning is typically a darker shade of orangey-yellow. This is because you’ve been sleeping for the past several hours and haven’t been drinking any water. If your urine is amber or honey colored regularly during the day, your body is trying to tell you that you’re not drinking enough fluid. When you aren’t giving your body enough water, it will hold onto fluid making your urine strong, concentrated, and darker in color. When this happens make an attempt to increase hydration.
Syrup or brown ale colored
If your pee’s a little brown you may have a problem on your hands. | iStock.com/markcarper
Light brown urine is a sign of either severe dehydration or liver disease. If it’s the former, you’ll need to immediately drink water and make it a point to significantly increase your water consumption. If the brownish color persists once you increase your water intake, make an appointment to see your doctor to see if the color is connected to a liver problem. Jaundiced skin and eyes are also a sign of liver disease.
Pink to reddish-color
Pink- to red-colored urine may be from snacking on too many beets, rhubarb, or blueberries. | iStock.com
While seeing pink to red colored urine may look alarming, if you’ve been snacking on plenty of red foods like beets, rhubarb, or blueberries, the color may be attributed to those foods’ natural red pigments. If not, you’ll want to waste no time in visiting a doctor. Pink or red colored urine could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, kidney infection, kidney stones, or even cancer of the kidney, bladder, or prostate.
Blue colored pee isn’t anything to be alarmed about. | iStock.com
Even though it may look like alien pee, urine that is blue-green in color is probably harmless. It can be a side effect of some oral medications or could be from artificial food dyes. While unlikely, there is a rare inherited disorder that can make urine an unnatural blue shade.
Foaming or fizzing
It is definitely possible to eat too much meat. | iStock.com
While this bubbly phenomenon may just be from the force of your urine exiting your body, it can also be a sign that you’re getting too much protein or have a kidney problem. If you notice this foaming or fizzing quality every time you pee, make an appointment with your doctor or try cutting back on your protein intake.
Whether it was from the taco before the business presentation or the extra-large beer while watching the big game, everyone has had a time when they tried to hold back a bodily function—for their sake or for everyone around them.
While some bodily functions like sneezing can be disruptive, others like gas can be downright embarrassing. Depending on the circumstances, letting it out may even be rude.
“We’re all guilty of holding back bodily functions to be polite,” said Susan A. Werner, M.D., a Geisinger family medicine provider. “What you may not realize, however, is that it can have negative effects on your health. Bodily functions are supposed to be let out, and holding them in can cause infections or serious health issues.”
Here are four bodily functions you should just let go.
For most people, sneezes are far from subtle—which is understandable since you’re expelling air at around 40 miles per hour.
People hold in sneezes to avoid being disruptive, but the effects of holding in a sneeze might be more than you bargained for.
“There are cases of people rupturing their throats after holding in a sneeze,” said Dr. Werner. “The force is enough to break through your windpipe and push the air through the soft tissue in your neck. In these cases, it may be necessary to stay at the hospital for a week to heal completely.”
While this is a rare event, it does still happen. Luckily, it’s completely avoidable if you let the sneeze out.
Just be sure to sneeze into a tissue or your elbow (for everyone’s sake).
While you can sneeze anywhere you want, it’s not so easy when you have to urinate. Holding your urine is sometimes necessary, but if you find yourself doing a dance, it’s time to make a pit stop.
As liquid waste builds up in your body, you get the urge to urinate. It’s not harmful to hold it for a few minutes until you get to the bathroom, but if you wait too long, the effects can be unpleasant and even dangerous.
Holding your urine for too long can weaken the bladder muscles over time. This can lead to problems such as incontinence and not being able to fully empty your bladder.
Holding your urine for extremely long periods of time can also cause urinary tract infections due to bacteria build-up. In addition, it can increase your risk of kidney disease and in rare cases even risk your bladder bursting—a condition that can be deadly.
There are plenty of reasons to hold back a bowel movement. For most people, it’s not just a matter of finding a bathroom, it’s about finding the right bathroom and some peace and quiet.
As a result, some people may hold their bowel movements for too long.
“Don’t hold back bowel movements,” said Dr. Werner. “The longer you wait, the more water your body removes from the waste. Eventually, this can lead to constipation and impactions, which may require laxatives or even surgery to remove.”
Belches and flatulence are embarrassing, especially when they happen at the wrong moment. And because gas can smell or make a noise, most people try to hold it in until they find a secluded place.
Luckily, holding gas does not have serious or harmful side effects. However, it can cause bloating and discomfort.
“Interestingly, some early studies show that holding gas can lead to bad breath, too,” said Dr. Werner. “When you hold gas in, the bubbles can break down and go elsewhere throughout the body—which in some cases can end up making your breath smell.”
If you have the chance, it’s best to let gas go.
Susan A. Werner, M.D., is a primary care physician at Geisinger Nanticoke. T, call 570-258-1304 or visit Geisinger.org.
Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Hold in Your Pee
It might not feel like it, but the adult bladder can hold as much as half a litre (2 cups) of pee before you’ll feel the need to ‘go’.
Your body knows how much is in there because your bladder wall is filled with tiny receptors that send a message to your brain when the bladder reaches capacity.
Fortunately, most of us have full control over our bladder function, so when we receive this message, we can choose to either relieve ourselves right away, or hold it because it’s a really long way to the bathroom from the couch.
But what exactly are we doing to our body when we hold all that pee in?
In an episode of SciShow, Michael explains that once you’ve made the decision that you’re too busy to pee right now, the cylindrical sphincters in your bladder close up tightly to keep all of the urine from leaking through your urethra.
These little muscles are great at what they do, until you make them do it consistently for a really long time, say if you’re a trucker and you’re holding in your pee on long trips several times a week.
If you make a habit of holding in your pee for ages, you’re subjecting yourself to pretty serious long-term effects, including a higher risk of infection.
And as the video below explains, constantly holding in your pee can weaken your bladder muscles, which could lead to urinary retention – the dreaded condition that prevents you from being able to fully empty your bladder when you pee, which means you feel like peeing a lot.
Holding in large amounts of urine for an extended period of time also exposes your body to potentially harmful bacteria, which can increase your chances of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection.
All of which sounds pretty bad, but not exactly life-threatening, right? Well, you’re just not trying hard enough.
Enter Tycho Brahe: a Danish astronomer and alchemist back in the 16th century.
Brahe was a fantastic scientist, contributing to the scientific literature on everything from supernovae, comets, and planetary orbits. He also ended up in a duel with a fellow nobleman over the legitimacy of a mathematical formula, and because they chose to duel in the dark, he ended up losing the entire bridge of his nose.
For the rest of his life, Brahe glued a silver or gold nose replacement onto his face.
As colourful as all that is, Brahe’s cause of death is perhaps even more ridiculous.
He reportedly refused to leave a banquet to relieve himself because he believed it to be a breach of etiquette, but then once he got home, he found he was unable to pee at all. He descended into delirium and died soon after when his entire bladder burst.
The good news is that Brahe’s bladder wasn’t like most – in the vast majority of cases like this, a person will just wet themself before any bursting occurs. If bursting happens, it’s almost always because the bladder was already damaged for some reason.
But not always. As Michael explains for SciShow, there have been cases where people’s bladders burst because they were too drunk to notice the signal from their brain telling them to pee.
Watch the episode of SciShow below to find out more:
A version of this story was first published in January 2016.
Is it safe to hold your pee? Five possible complications
Below, we look at five potential side effects of holding in pee:
People who regularly ignore the urge to pee may feel pain in the bladder or kidneys. When a person finally does reach the bathroom, urinating may also hurt.
The muscles may also stay partially clenched after the urine is released, which can lead to pelvic cramps.
2. Urinary tract infection
In some cases, holding in pee for too long can cause bacteria to multiply. This may lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
No research has shown that holding in pee causes UTIs, but many doctors recommend avoiding it, especially if a person has a history of frequent UTIs.
People who do not drink enough liquids may be more likely to develop a UTI because the bladder is not telling the body to pee often enough. This can cause bacteria to spread through the urinary tract, leading to infection.
Symptoms of a UTI include:
- a burning or stinging feeling during urination
- pain in the pelvis or lower abdomen
- a constant urge to empty the bladder
- strong- or foul-smelling urine
- cloudy, off-colored urine
- consistently dark urine
- bloody urine
3. Bladder stretching
In the long term, regularly holding in pee can cause the bladder to stretch. This may make it difficult or impossible for the bladder to contract and release pee normally.
If a person has a stretched bladder, extra measures, such as a catheter, may be necessary.
4. Damage to pelvic floor muscles
Frequently retaining urine may harm the pelvic floor muscles.
One of these muscles is the urethral sphincter, which keeps the urethra closed, to prevent urine from leaking out. Damaging this muscle could lead to urinary incontinence.
Doing pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels may help to strengthen these muscles and prevent leakage or repair muscle loss.
5. Kidney stones
Holding in pee may cause kidney stones to form in people with a history of the condition, or people who have a high mineral content in their urine. Pee often contains minerals such as uric acid and calcium oxalate.
UPDATE: According to emeraldgreengirl, Kenny does have all his man-parts and a butthole. I’m still unclear on the mechanics, but at least part of the mystery has been solved.
I was watching Jerry Springer this afternoon, and I guess it’s been a while since I have watched it, but in addition to a huge scale (akin to those used in the Salem witch trials), a puppet stage, and a crowd that chants every thirty seconds, there is now Kenny Easterday, someone who has a rare disability known as sacral agenesis.
He doesn’t add much to the show (not that anything really could)– he hangs out on camera while the guest yammers on about how he works at a chicken plant as a hanger (the guy who strings the chicken up before slitting its throat), how he loves the Cars and fucked his best friend’s girl while his friend was in jail.
It’s distracting at least and at most disturbing, but seeing someone with such a physique raises some obvious questions. Thanks to Yahoo! Answers, I have undeniable evidence about his condition. Both BluntForceTrauma and I are wondering: does Kenny Easterday of the Jerry Springer show have a penis?
After all, his body is cut off so high I wonder what all he is missing besides just legs. Does he have a butt?
A father of two, Kenny is working with something somehow. Debates have ensued across the Internet and many a theory posited, but so far I have not found a definitive answer to my question that quells my morbid curiosity.
While relegated to pariah TV these days, Easterday is dear to some folks due to a movie he made 20 years ago called the Kid Brother where he plays a fictionalized version of himself. I know what I’m adding to my Netflix queue next.