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Here’s What Really Happens to Your Body When You Hold in Your Pee

Ever find yourself in desperate need to go to the bathroom but decide to hold in your pee longer than you should because you’re bingeing a show on Netflix and don’t want to press pause or because you’re driving and don’t want to pull over and use a gas station bathroom?

We have all been there before, wandering around with a full bladder, holding it for far too long. It’s common to skip a trip to the bathroom because you’re lazy, busy or just far away from the nearest latrine and figure your bladder is tough enough to hold in your urine for another 10, 20 or a painful 60 minutes.

Personally, I’m grossed out by public bathrooms and absolutely refuse to go potty on an airplane. How do I fly long distance? I hold it in until we land and then rush to the nearest airport bathroom and let it all out. It’s a painful process that I know will catch up negatively with my body one day.

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But deciding not to take a leak when your body is urging you to is actually not good for you. According to some doctors, holding in your pee can do damage that may be irreversible.

1. Kidney infection

Dr. Svetlana Kogan, a holistic M.D., says that holding in your pee is pretty dangerous. You can develop something that I don’t know how to say out loud — pyelonephritis. “You can get a kidney infection because the urine backs up to the kidneys and starts an inflammatory and infectious process,” she adds.

2. Lose the urge to pee

While Kogan says it’s rare, you damage your bladder so badly by holding in your pee that you will stop getting an urge to pee: “You can develop denervation of the urinary bladder, which means that you will not be having an urge to void altogether and may need to self-catheterize to survive.”

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3. UTI

UTI is an unpleasant abbreviation for a urinary tract infection, which Dr. Lisa Ashe, a D.C.-based internal medical physician says can happen when you don’t go to the bathroom. “The longer the urine sits,” she says, “the increased risk for infections.”

4. Frequent bathroom trips

One negative side effect of holding in your pee is that it may take a few trips to the bathroom to let it all out. Dr. David Shusterman, the chief physician and founder of New York Urology, says, “If the bladder is too full, you may have to run to the bathroom a few times before it is fully empty.”

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All of that sounds painful and perhaps serves as a good reminder that when we have to go, we just have to go. End the laziness or the desire to be on time when heading somewhere and spend the quality time you and your body deserve in the bathroom.

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