Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are pretty common among young adults, particularly among women.
More than 50% of women will experience UTIs in their lifetime.
What is worrisome is that in many people, UTIs tend to reoccur.
UTIs are not uncommon in men. However, they are also prone to prostate infection, benign prostate hyperplasia, and other issues.
Therefore, it is good to know if you can get a UTI from holding your pee.
There could be many reasons why you’re holding your pee. For example, many may work at a place with poor access to bathrooms, and others might have a fear of public toilets, a busy schedule, hyperactive bladder, anxiety, and so on.
How much urine does the bladder hold?
An average adult’s urinary bladder is about 300 to 400 ml (in some, it may be even as large as 700 ml). It can hold approximately two cups of urine.
Of course, if you do not pee for too long, it may expand a bit to hold some more urine. However, once it starts expanding, it also starts sending signals to the brain to pee.
Health experts estimate that most adults need to pee about 8 times a day and no more than once at night. So, generally, one can readily hold for about 3-4 hours.
However, much depends on how much you drink and eat during this time. Thus, for example, if you had a hefty meal with a pint or two of beer, then perhaps you will not be able to hold on for 3-4 hours.
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Is it safe to hold your pee?
Holding your pee too frequently is not be a good idea, especially if such a process is painful. It may cause much mental distress, and there is also a risk of leakage.
Additionally, it is less safe for those living with certain disease conditions. Thus, for example, those already living with UTI should not hold for long, as this may promote infection movement toward the kidneys.
Individuals who must particularly avoid holding pee for long are:
- Those already living with UTI
- Individuals living with kidney disorders
- Those prone to urine retention
- People with enlarged prostate
- Neurogenic bladder
Further, holding pee may increase the risk of UTIs and kidney infections in some individuals. Remember that holding for too long would increase pressure on the whole of the urinary system, including the kidneys.
Why does holding your pee hurt?
The urinary bladder has its limits, and once it gets filled above the limits, it starts sending pain signals to the brain. This is a signal that one should pee urgently.
Can you get a UTI from holding your pee?
Chances are slim that holding pee now and then would cause UTI. However, if you hold your pee too frequently, that is altogether a different story.
Theoretically, if you are healthy and have no infection and good immunity, holding pee would not cause infection. After all, infectious agents must enter the urinary tract in one way or another for UTI to develop.
However, we must not forget that there is something called opportunistic infections. It means that generally harmless bacteria may also cause infections under adverse circumstances.
Studies suggest higher urinary volume and frequent peeing are associated with lower UTI risk. This means that holding your pee does increase your risk of UTI to some degree, even if any such increase is minimal.
However, some individuals are more likely to develop UTI from holding pee for long:
- Those living with compromised immunity
- Individuals prone to UTI or who had recently recovered from UTI
- People living with certain infections like gonorrhea
- Neurogenic bladder
- Pre- and postmenopausal women
- Those living with asymptomatic bacteriuria
- Those who had undergone catheterization in the last few weeks
- People living with certain urological conditions like urinary incontinence, alterations in the urothelium, and more
How long do you have to hold your pee to get a UTI?
There is no hard and fast rule here. Holding your pee for too long rarely causes a UTI.
Of course, if you do it too frequently or regularly and hold pee for several hours or for most of the working day, it may cause harm and increase the risk of UTI in the long term.
Although there are no controlled clinical studies on the subject, holding pee is bad for you and may increase your risk of UTI.
Can holding your pee cause kidney failure?
No. Theoretically, if you continue to resist, this will increase intra-renal pressure. However, this will not result in kidney failure.
Moreover, holding for too long would cause unbearable pain, and you will have to find a place to pee.
How often should you pee?
Before we discuss this topic in detail, remember that there are massive individual differences. Some people have 400 ml urinary bladders; others may even have 700 ml urinary bladders. So naturally, a person with a larger bladder would need to pee less often.
Additionally, lots would depend on the weather, environment, and food habits. For example, if you drink too much or you are on a liquid diet, you may need to pee more frequently. Similarly, one would pee less often during hot summer days.
Nonetheless, it is worth knowing that most adults produce 1200 to 1500 ml of urine. Therefore, most people would feel comfortable if they pee 5 to 6 times a day and once after going to bed.
Of course, peeing more frequently, like eight times, may also be normal. Similarly, peeing three to four times is also okay if it does not cause pain or a burning sensation.
Nevertheless, generally, it is a good idea to pee at least six or more times a day. This would reduce your risk of UTIs and help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Additionally, it may also minimize the risk of bladder infection or cystitis. That is why doctors recommend peeing more often to individuals with the problems mentioned earlier in the article.
Why you shouldn’t hold your pee
Peeing multiple times a day is an essential activity like eating or sleeping. It is an important body function.
However, if you hold your pee for long and do it too frequently, you are compromising your health in one way or another.
Holding your pee would:
- Increase your risk of UTIs, even if marginally
- Increase the risk of kidney stones
- Lower the rate of detoxification
- It might exacerbate kidney problems
- It may cause pelvic floor issues
- Increase the risk of bladder infections
- It might cause significant pain and psychological distress
Holding pee for too long may not immediately cause any harm in healthy adults. However, over the long run, it does increase UTI risk.
Additionally, it is worth understanding that the risk of getting a UTI from not peeing is even greater in those already prone to UTIs or living with other risk factors like a neurogenic bladder.