When you have to go to the bathroom, you simply have to go! When the bladder is half-full with urine, it sends a signal to the brain. The brain then tells us to go to the bathroom, while telling the bladder to control the urge to urinate.
A healthy adult bladder can hold up to 2 cups of urine. However, controlling the urge to pee on a regular basis is not a good idea at all. Here’s why:
People who regularly control their urge to urinate, may feel pain in the kidneys or the bladder. In some cases when a person finally gives in to the urge to urinate, he/she can also feel pain while urinating.
2) Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
UTIs occur when bacteria take hold of the bladder tissues. In some cases, controlling the urge to urinate can cause the bacteria to multiply in size and spread throughout the urinary tract, thereby causing a UTI. Doctors say that if you have a history of frequent UTIs, you should not control the urge to pee. Some common symptoms of UTIs are:
- Burning/stinging sensation while urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Constant urge to empty the bladder
- Strong/foul smelling urine
- Cloudy, off-color or dark urine
- Blood in the urine
3) Bladder Stretching
Regularly holding in the urge to pee, over a long period of time, can cause the muscles of the bladder to stretch. Once stretched, it may be very difficult for the bladder to contract and release urine naturally. In extreme cases, extra measures such as a catheter may need to be used as well.
4) Damage to Pelvic Floor Muscles
Urine retention can damage the muscles of the pelvic floor. One of the muscles that could be affected is the urethral sphincter. The urethral sphincter keeps the urethra closed in order to prevent the urine from leaking out. Damage to this muscle may cause urinary incontinence, i.e., the involuntary leakage of urine. However, doing Kegel exercises (pelvic floor exercises) can strengthen these muscles, prevent urinary leakage and repair muscle loss.
5) Kidney Stones
Urine contain minerals such as uric acid and calcium oxalate. People having a high mineral content in urine or people having a history of kidney stones, may be more susceptible to kidney stones if they control their urge to use the bathroom.
Despite these effects, sometimes circumstances are such that you cannot find a clean bathroom to use. You have no option but to control your urge to urinate, and there are certain ways to do so:
- Involve yourself in a task that will keep your brain engaged such as a crossword puzzle or games
- Listen to music
- If you are already in a sitting position, remain in that position
- Read a book
- Scroll through social media
- Keep yourself warm
Sources: Everyday Health, Healthline, Medical News Today, Pampers, Time Magazine, Verywell Health