Is it safe to hold it in?
We’ve all been there before. You have to use the bathroom but decide to ignore the urge so you can keep your focus on a project or not cause an interruption by leaving a meeting. Although you have good intentions, one expert says holding in urine can cause short and long-term health complications.
“Aside from experiencing discomfort, people who avoid urinating over long periods of time put themselves at risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI) and bladder dysfunction” says Dr. Herbert User, a urologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Urination helps flush out bacteria from the urethra, so the longer someone waits to use the bathroom, the more bacteria grow and can spread to the bladder in women, ultimately causing a UTI.”
While UTIs are relatively harmless and treated with antibiotics, people who make a habit of holding their urine are more prone to develop a more problematic issue: urinary retention, a frustrating condition that prohibits the bladder from fully emptying out. Teachers and truck drivers are traditional occupations that are high risk.
“Urinary retention, although usually caused by prostate blockage, can be caused by weak bladder muscles that occur after many years of holding in urine for too long,” says Dr. User. “The symptoms include difficulty urinating, urgent urination, frequent urination or feeling like you need to go again right after leaving the bathroom.”
The easiest way to avoid complications in your urinary system is to simply listen to your body and visit the bathroom when you feel a pressing sensation on your bladder, Dr. User says.
He also recommends keeping track of how often you visit the bathroom. The average frequency should be between four and eight times a day and will fluctuate depending on your fluid intake.
About the Author
Julie Nakis, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. She earned her BA in communications from the University of Iowa – Go Hawkeyes! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring the city and cheering on the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks.