Can holding in your pee really kill you?

We've all had that desperate urge to pee but not been in the most convenient place to go.

But turns out holding it in is actually quite bad for your health.

Now, we aren't suggesting you just relieve yourself the instant you feel the need to go - occasionally holding it shouldn't do any damage.


It's when you're consistently avoiding going to the bathroom when your body tells you to that you could cause yourself problems.

You might not feel like it, but your bladder holds up to half a litre of urine.

There are tiny receptors on the bladder wall that can detect how much is in there and send a message to your brain when it's full.

Thankfully, your brain also sends a signal back telling your bladder to hold on - otherwise things could get really messy.

But if you decide to ignore those signals from your body and hold on for too long it could have some serious consequences.

Worst-case scenario, urine could back up into your kidneys and could cause them to fail, which could be fatal.

The good news is you are much more likely to lose control of your muscles and wet yourself way before that happens.

Here are some of the more likely reasons to never hold in your pee...

A burst bladder

Yes, this is as horrifying as it sounds.

It's incredibly rare and unlikely to happen to you, but your bladder can burst if you hold in your pee too much.

When the bladder bursts urine will fill the abdomen and you will require emergency surgery to fix it.


But it is more likely that your bladder will simply stretch or the muscles will become weaker, causing you to wet your pants.

Needless to say, if you think this has happened to you then speak to a doctor straight away.


Anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI) will tell you that you absolutely do not want one.

UTIs happen when the urinary tract becomes infected, usually by bacteria.

They can cause pain, burning and stinging when weeing, an urgent need to pee, urine that’s dark and strong-smelling and pain in your lower tummy.

Studies have shown that holding your wee in for too long can cause the bacteria responsible for the infection to multiply.

If you don't drink enough water, don't pee after sex or don't pee often enough you are at a greater risk of developing a UTI.

If you have a UTI you may need antibiotics from a GP.


Something no one wants to experience.

Incontinence is when your body struggles to control the urge to go to the toilet.

A simple sneeze or a cough can cause you to leak a bit of pee, and it is more common in women who have given birth.

It is caused by a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles,

The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from the pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine.

They are shaped like a sling and hold all your pelvic organs in place, including your bladder.

But the muscles can become weaker if you frequently hold in your pee.

In order to maintain your strength down there you should go to the toilet whenever you need to and practice pelvic floor exercises like kegels.

Kidney stones

You've definitely heard of this painful condition before.

Kidney stones are formed when waste products in the blood form crystals and develop over time.

They are more common if you don't drink enough liquids and if you hold in your pee too often.

Most kidney stones are small enough to be passed out - albeit painfully - in your pee, but some may require surgery to remove them.

If you have kidney stones you may experience a persistent ache in your lower back, nausea, pain when you pee and blood in your urine.

Speak to your doctor if you think you have kidney stones.

Stretched bladder

Somewhat related to a burst bladder and pelvic floor muscles, your bladder can actually stretch if you don't pee often enough.


It makes sense when you think about it, your bladder becomes too full and the liquid causes the muscles and membranes to stretch around it - think like water in a balloon.

But when this happens it may make it more difficult for you to release pee normally in the future because the bladder doesn't bounce back to it's original shape.

In severe cases a person may need a catheter to help them go to the bathroom.

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