What really happens when you hold your pee in for too long.

Image: iStock.

During a really good episode on Netflix, mid-meeting at work; in the middle of a heaving surburban shopping mall… at some point we’ve all put off going to the loo in favour of continuing the task at hand.

But how true are reports that doing so can actually be seriously dangerous for your body?

A recent SciShow episode dug deep into the issue, and it turns out there’s good news and bad news.

While holding in your pee actually can be bad for your body, that’s only the case if you do it frequently and for a really long time. Even then, it’s almost never life-threatening. Phew.

That said, there are some nasty side effects that might put you off… like infection, pain, and the odd burst bladder. Delightful.

Watch the SciShow episode here. (Post continues after video.)

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You see, adult bladders are capable of holding up to half a litre of urine before you’ll get that lingering sensation of needing to pee, triggered by receptors in your bladder wall that send a signal to your brain.

Thanks to potty training as youngsters, we’re able to make the choice to either pee straight away or hold it off for a while, but that’s not without its risks.

“If you hold your pee in for long periods of time a lot, then you might find yourself facing some not-so-fun long-term effects like urinary retention [the inability to empty your bladder completely] as you age and a greater risk of infection,” says the SciShow team.

If you've gotta go, and you can go... then just go. (Image: iStock)

 

This is because if your bladder is constantly holding large amounts of urine it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Now, about those rumours of burst bladders: yes, it's very rare (and you'll probably wet yourself first) but it can happen.

While it usually only occurs in people who have previous damage or conditions with their bladder such as pelvic injuries, it has been known to happen out of the blue. Eek.

Watch: Dr Ginni Mansberg explains what urine colour can indicate about your health. (Post continues after video.)

The helping hand? Good ol' alcohol.

"In these cases it's generally because the people had been drinking a lot and the alcohol dampened the signal to their brain that was telling them they needed to pee, like, right now," Scishow explain.

So while putting off peeing for a while isn't going to kill you, it's probably best to listen to your body and if you can go, go. We promise that Netflix episode will still be there when you get back.

What body question have you always wanted to know the answer to?

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