Don’t hold it in, as you could weaken your muscles (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)The recommendation for how much you should drink is usually said to be about eight glasses per day.
However, what’s less spoken about is how often we should go to the toilet or – more specifically – pee.
Many people with busy lifestyles or who work in hectic environments that don’t lend themselves to frequent bathroom breaks (or in jobs without easy access to a toilet) have a habit of holding it in.
However, just as farts are better out than in, so is urine.
‘Holding urine in the bladder for too long over a long period of time overstretches the bladder wall and its muscle (detrusor) and eventually weakens the bladder muscle and as a consequence this overstretched bladder begins to fail to empty completely,’ Sudhanshu Chitale, consultant urological surgeon and honorary clinical associate professor, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘The long-term consequences of overstretching of the bladder are very many: failure of bladder emptying and, building up of residual volumes, recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and impairment of kidney function.
‘Regular bladder emptying is of paramount importance to maintaining the health of the lower urinary tract (LUTr) over long term.’
If you’re reading this and currently holding in a wee, don’t worry – you won’t stretch your bladder by occasionally prolonging your toilet visit.
But it’s advisable to not make it a habit.
‘What happens if you hold your pee in: initially, nothing,’ said Samar, an NHS doctor and honorary clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield.
‘However, for those who do this on a chronic basis they can cause over-stretching of the bladder muscle which will cause problems in its ability to contract and empty; increased risk of kidney stones; increased risk of urinary tract infections; swelling of the kidneys (known as ‘hydronephrosis’) and subsequent reduced kidney function.’
How often you pee is depends on a wide variety of factors, including how much you drink.
Jess, who drinks around three litres per day, said she pees on average around 11 times daily – and mostly at work (she tells us this as she’s headed to the toilet for yet another wee).
Meanwhile Ellen, who likes to ‘always be sipping something’ goes to the toilet around six to nine times per day.
Others tell us they can hold off for an entire working day, due to lack of time to drink and pee.
Depends on how much I’m working and how much water I get to drink. Up to once every 60-90 minutes if I’m not working and drinking 500-750 ml/hr of water(my usual amount). If work is busy maybe once or twice in an 8 hour day since I have neither time to drink nor wee.— Terri Pettis (@PettisT82) June 1, 2019
Not enough, maybe two or three times. Sometimes I can go from 7 am to 7 pm without going.— Oliver Collings (@oliver_collings) June 1, 2019
So, what’s a good amount to wee every day?
Samar recommends going to the toilet between five to 10 times per day, but points out that ‘quantities would differ somewhat based on the size of the person’.
Other factors include how much you sweat, whether you smoke (as it can irritate your bladder) and how much salt you consume.
Ever noticed how bars and pubs offer salty nuts along with your pint?
There’s a reason: it makes you thirsty and you’re more likely to drink more (and therefore, pee more).
If coffee is your morning beverage of choice, you might also find yourself heading to the loo more often as caffeine is a diueretic, which essentially means it makes you pee.
Same thing goes for drinking beverages that are high in sugar.
In addition, some medications and medical conditions can be a factor, such as diabetes.
Obviously, if you don’t need to go, you shouldn’t try to force yourself.
‘There is no such figure written in stone that would be considered an abnormal amount of urine; as abnormal means too much or too little than average,’ said Chitale.
‘Human kidney unit produces an average of 1ml of urine per minute, so 60ml per hour and 1440ml over 24 hours.
‘However, during sleeping hours (overnight) a natural hormone (ADH) secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain restricts the amount of urine produced by the kidneys as a normal or physiological, protective response, so we have an undisturbed sleep.
‘If this hormone is not adequate, the kidneys produce more urine overnight and the individual passes more than a third of total urine output during sleeping hours (nocturnal polyuria).
‘If one is passing too little urine (oligouria), less than 400 – 500ml over 24 hours (20ml/hr) or urine output of less than 50 ml per day (anuria) indicates acute kidney failure.’
If you’re concerned about your toilet habits, speak to your GP or other medical health professional.
Depending on your symptoms, they could ask you to keep what urologists call a ‘voiding diary’, which is like a normal diary but only filled with tidbits about how much you drink, when you pee, how often you pee and how much is released each time.
Do bare in mind that your peeing habits will change as you age and your muscles naturally weaken. To counteract this, you can do kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Generally however, all you have to do is listen to your body.
It’s pretty good at telling you what it needs.
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