The question is: To wee, or not to wee? In the shower, that is. Whether you’re a wash ‘n wee enthusiast or staunchly against the practice (or so you say in polite company), it’s always going to be a talking point. So is it really a good idea?
“It’s not particularly good or bad for you either way,” says Sydney-based GP Dr Ginni Mansberg. “There’s not anything particularly harmful in urine and it’s not going to be a problem for your health.”
However, unless you live and shower on your lonesome, the big call often comes down to the “Ew” factor — namely, having to stand in the exact spot where the other people who use your shower have relieved themselves.
“The thought that there’s pee in the shower, particularly if you share the shower with other people, is a bit ghastly,” Dr Mansberg says.
“Having said that, considering you’re not weeing into a dry shower, you’d think it’s all getting washed down with water, along with whatever other bodily detritus is coming off you. You wash between your butt cheeks and the rest of it, and that all goes down with the water, but we don’t get ‘ewweed’ out with that stuff because it’s also on your body.” Dr Mansberg certainly has a point there.
So, yes, standing among the traces of someone else’s urine is a rather icky thought. But if you’re one of the 20 per cent (according to this poll) who remain unconvinced, there are some pretty compelling reasons in favour of washing and weeing.
The case for peeing:
1. It can be kinder on your lady bits
Let’s be clear: the toilet, and toilet paper, are both great inventions. However, especially when you’re the proud owner of a vagina, rinsing with water can feel more pleasant on your bits. “If your vulva is very irritated and toilet paper is really painful, sometimes it can be less painful to just be able to wash off with water afterwards,” Dr Mansberg says. Plus, you know it’ll do the job properly.
Also, you’ll avoid accidentally wiping the wrong way (hey, if you’re not a Morning Person anything can happen when you wake up) and risking infection.
2. It’ll save you some money. And time.
Okay, so shower peeing won’t save you thousands of dollars, but your water bill will be a little lower and your toilet paper will last just that bit longer. Unless you’re a billionare, it’s the little cash wins that count. Right?
Also, it’ll save you a precious minute in the morning, which can be the difference between getting on the bus comfortably and having to Usain Bolt for it.
3. It’s not going to kill you, or your housemates.
Despite what you’ve been told, urine isn’t 100 per cent sterile — but it’s pretty close, meaning it’s not going to burn through your feet if you miss the drain.
“Unless you have a bladder infection, urine itself should be sterile at all times. But the minute it comes out — this is particularly the case for women — it’s going to come out through the vulva,” Dr Mansberg explains. “It exits the body just above the vagina and the vulva’s got stacks of bacteria on it. Stacks. So most urine samples will pick up a bit of bacteria from the vulva on the way through. It’s not unhealthy bacteria, it’s not harmful, it’s fine.”
Now, as for Madonna’s claim that wee will ward off Athlete’s Foot… that hasn’t been proven. Dr Mansberg says urine acts as a waste system for your body to flush out elements like hydrogen, which your kidneys release to reduce acid levels in your blood and keep your urine at a pH of 7.4.
“There’s a bit of a range with how much acid is in your urine. And is acid good for Athlete’s Foot? Maybe, but I wouldn’t rely on that,” she says.
4. It’ll make the environment happy.
One or two less flushes every day doesn’t seem like much, but it certainly adds up. Just ask the two UK university students who last year started a campaign called ‘Go With the Flow’, encouraging their 15,000 peers to relieve themselves in the shower.
“Over a year we would save enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool 26 times over. Imagine how big an impact it could have if we could get everyone in… the UK to change their morning habits,” campaigner Chris Dobson told the BBC. In 2009, a Brazilian government group launched a similar campaign.
They have a point, especially when you factor in that some people hop out of the shower while it’s still running to use the toilet. Water doesn’t grow on trees; and as George says in Seinfeld, “It’s all pipes, what’s the difference?”
Think talking about peeing in the shower is awkward? Try this. (Post continues after video.)
We hereby present The Five Unspoken But Very Important Commandments of Shower Weeing.
1. Thou must not wee in a dry shower.
No matter how bad you have to go, don’t you dare start until the water stream does.
2. Thou must rinse thoroughly.
“I don’t think anyone wants their shower to smell like a urinal, so you should make sure you’re washing down a reasonable amount of water after you start your pee. Otherwise your shower’s going to start smelling pretty ghastly,” Dr Mansberg advises. Important.
3. Thou must aim carefully.
“If you’re going to do it, aim for the drain, not for the walls like a boy,” Dr Mansberg says. You might scoff reading that, but we ladies can be just as capable of urine pyrotechnics as our male companions.
4. Thou must not wee on another.
Tandem showering is all fun and games until someone gets weed on. Remember that scene in Girls when Adam pees on Hannah in the shower (above), and he thinks it’s hilarious but she’s absolutely horrified? Yeah, don’t do that.
Unless they specifically ask for it, or they’ve just been stung by a jellyfish, peeing on another human is not a friendly thing to do. In fact, probably just wait until you’re showering solo.
5. Thou must not pee in a public shower.
Come on. This is just good manners.