What are the implications of holding your pee?

a man using restroom

It’s natural for people to fight the urge to urinate from time to time, whether it’s due to a long day at work or a thrilling movie. However, holding urine on a daily basis is not recommended because it can cause issues.

The urinary bladder is a pear-shaped, hollow organ that is a part of the urinary system. The bladder’s job is to store pee until it’s time to go to the restroom.

A healthy adult bladder can hold about 16 ounces of liquid, or 2 cups, while a child’s bladder can hold considerably less. Although the bladder may stretch to retain more, doing so too frequently might be harmful. It is not a good idea to put off going to the restroom on a regular basis.

We’ll look at the consequences of holding in pee for too long or too often in this article.


a man using restroom

Holding in pee on occasion will not harm a healthy adult, but if it becomes a habit, it may have negative consequences.

The bladder sends a signal to the brain when it is roughly halfway full of liquid, indicating that it is time to pee. The bladder is told to hold on while the brain develops the urge to urinate.

It is sometimes important to hold urine in. It could be difficult to find a restroom, or a person could be working on bladder retraining exercises.

There are no hard and fast guidelines about when and how to hold in pee. Side effects may be more common in certain people than in others.

Side effects that may occur

1. Discomfort

The following are five possible negative effects of holding in pee:

People who neglect their urge to pee on a regular basis may have pain or discomfort in their bladder or kidneys. Urinating can be painful when a person finally gets to the bathroom.

After the release of urine, the muscles may remain partially contracted, causing pelvic cramps.

2. Urinary tract infection

Holding pee for an extended period of time might cause bacteria to proliferate. It’s possible that this will result in a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Many doctors advise against holding in urine for long periods of time since it can raise the risk of UTIs, especially if you have a history of UTIs.

Because the bladder is not alerting the body to pee frequently enough, people who do not drink enough liquids are more prone to acquire a UTI. This can transmit bacteria throughout the urinary tract, resulting in infections.

A UTI can cause the following symptoms:

  • 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

Regularly holding in urine can lead the bladder to stretch in the long run. The bladder may find it difficult or impossible to contract and release pee normally as a result of this.

Extra measures, such as a catheter, may be required if a person’s bladder is strained.

4. Damage to pelvic floor muscles

Retention of urine on a regular basis might cause damage to the pelvic floor muscles.

The urethral sphincter is one of these muscles, and it seals the urethra closed to prevent pee from spilling out. Urinary incontinence could result if this muscle is damaged.

Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen these muscles, heal muscle loss, and prevent leaks.

5. Kidney stones

In people with a history of kidney stones or those who have a high mineral content in their urine, holding in pee can cause kidney stones to form. Minerals like uric acid and calcium oxalate are commonly found in pee.

How much urine can the bladder hold?

The capacity of the human bladder varies slightly from person to person.

A healthy bladder can contain around 1.5–2 cups (300–400 ml) of pee over the day, according to research. The bladder may be able to store more during the night, up to 4 cups (800 ml).

Because their bodies are still developing, children’s bladders are smaller. Using the equation (age + 2) x 30 ml, people may be able to anticipate the size of a child’s bladder.

A 10-year-old child, for example, would have a bladder capacity of around 360 ml based on this formula.

In addition, a healthy bladder may be able to extend and accommodate bigger volumes of urine. Urinating at regular intervals, on the other hand, is recommended.

Will the bladder burst?

Many people assume that if they hold their pee in for too long, their bladder may burst.

While a spontaneous urinary bladder rupture is possible, most ruptures are caused by an underlying reason, such as a blockage that prevents the bladder from voiding. Most of the time, the bladder will simply override the muscles that are holding the urine in, resulting in an accident.

Blows or piercing items, on the other hand, are more likely to cause bladder injuries.

It’s important to remember that a spontaneous urinary bladder rupture can lead to serious problems if left untreated.

Other conditions’ effects

Urinary retention can be caused by a variety of medical disorders. This is usually unintentional and goes unnoticed, but it might result in comparable difficulties.

Urinary blockage or retention can be caused by an enlarged prostate, weaker bladder muscles, or nerve injury in the urinary system.

It’s also a good idea for people with kidney problems to avoid holding in pee to avoid difficulties.

Training the body to pee less often

Doctors may advise retraining the bladder to urinate less frequently in some circumstances. This involves resisting the urge to pee.

The idea is to increase the amount of liquid that the bladder can hold before the urge to pee arises. If successful, this will increase the amount of time between bathroom trips.

Typically, a doctor will create a personalized retraining timetable and supervise the instruction.

The following suggestions may assist someone in easing into the retraining process:

  • staying warm, because being cold may trigger the urge to pee
  • listening to music or watching television for distraction
  • actively engaging the brain with a game, puzzle, or problem to solve
  • reading a book or newspaper article
  • staying seated or walking around, whichever resolves the urge
  • making a telephone call or writing an email

The idea is to use your intellect and divert your attention away from the urge to pee.

Tips for reaching the bathroom in time

Although it is advisable to pee whenever the bladder is full, not everyone has rapid access to a restroom.

The following suggestions can assist a person in getting to the restroom on time:

  • Cross the legs while standing: This may compress the urethra and help avoid an emergency.
  • Pass gas: A buildup of gas may be putting added pressure on the bladder.
  • Pee right after waking up: People in a rush to leave the house may skip a trip to the bathroom, but it is important to start the day’s cycle of urination right.
  • Plan for regular bathroom breaks: A person may want to try scheduling a bathroom break every 2–3 hours. Set an alarm and head to the bathroom, whether or not the bladder is sending a signal. This can help relieve pressure and avoid emergencies.
  • Do not wait until it is an emergency: Regardless of deadlines or busy days, make a habit of heading to the bathroom the moment the urge to urinate hits.


Occasionally holding pee in will likely cause no harm. However, doing so on a frequent basis could put you at risk of infection or other consequences.

It may be beneficial to have healthy and consistent restroom habits. Anyone who believes they are urinating excessively or frequently should see a doctor.


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