From long haul truckers to teachers, there are many instances when adults find themselves needing to resist the urge to urinate from time to time. While delaying nature’s call for an hour or two won’t pose any health threats, it’s possible to harm our bodies by holding urine for too long or by making a habit of not relieving ourselves often enough. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, continually resisting the urge to urinate can cause increased risk of bladder dysfunction, increased risk of UTIs, and damage to the urinary tract structures.
While the human bladder typically holds between 1.5 and 2 cups of fluid, the feeling of full varies from person to person. Research tells us that the bladder has a direct line of communication with our brains (Valentino et al, 1996). The bladder is filled with receptors that announce to the brain it is full. Think of it as an invisible line of communication, and when the bladder reaches that point of feeling full, the brain receives a signal that indicates we need to urinate. Usually this happens when the bladder is about a quarter of the way full.
Some people believe the bladder will burst if they hold in their urine too long. While it may be possible for a urinary bladder rupture to occur, there is usually an underlying cause for the rupture, such as a blockage preventing the bladder from voiding.
Do not wait until it is an emergency! Regardless of deadlines or busy days, visiting a bathroom as soon as the need to urinate is noticeable can help to maintain a healthy bladder.
Definition & facts of urinary retention. NIH. NIDDK.hih.gov. Retrieved 01 March 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/urinary-retention/definition-facts
Valentino RJ, Wood SK, Wein AJ, Zderic SA. The bladder–brain connection: putative role of corticotropin-releasing factor. Nature Reviews Urology. 2011 Jan;8(1):19-28.
Palthe S, Dijkstra GA, Steffens MG. A case of spontaneous urinary bladder rupture secondary to urinary retention due to an urethral stricture. Urology case reports. 2018 Mar 1;17:85-7.
15 tips to keep your bladder healthy. NIH. NIA.nih.gov. Retrieved 20 January 2022, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/15-tips-keep-your-bladder-healthy.