I’m notorious for holding in my urine. I actually hold it in for so long that on any given workday, you could probably catch me bent over, scurrying to the bathroom, dancing in a stall while I try and unbutton my pants before I have an accident on myself when I finally do choose to relieve myself. This is a typical scene for me because I’m a stickler for not getting up to do anything until I finish what I’m working on. I don’t want to interrupt my stream of thought only to return from the bathroom and find myself trying to play catch-up. But forcing myself to hold it because it’s not necessarily convenient for me to let my body and bladder do its thing is not healthy, and it’s the reason more and more people are struggling with urinary tract infections.
Like New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, who made headlines because he had to sit out the very beginning of spring training due to a blood clot stemming from a UTI. According to Harvey, things got so bad because he was holding his urine too long, too often.
“I guess the main issue is I hold my urine in for too long, instead of peeing regularly,” Harvey told reporters. “I have to retrain my bladder to use the restroom a little bit more, instead of holding it in.”
According to urologists, a “normal” rate of urination is eight to 10 times a day. So if you’re holding it to the point that you’re only going a few times daily, you could be putting yourself at risk, as bacteria can grow in the bladder and cause infections. But also, on an equally important side note, if you really only have to go two to three times a day, experts say you’re dehydrated. And that can also do a doozy on your body. (You don’t know a dry mouth until you haven’t been drinking enough water…)
But as for the holding issue, It’s recommended that you go “early and often.” According to Slate, at least 50 percent of women get some form of a UTI during their lifetime. Our urethras are shorter, so it’s easier for bacteria to get in your urinary tract. But for men like Harvey, they may struggle to identify the symptoms of a UTI to the point where things get so bad, blood is found in the urine, finally tipping them off. If UTIs aren’t treated promptly, they can turn into a kidney infection–and you sure don’t want that.
So if you feel a pain or burning when you urinate, feel the need to go a lot more than usual but find that your output isn’t much, have a lot of pressure in your lower belly, feel especially tired or feverish, and/or have urine that does not look like what you’re used to (milky, cloudy, red, bloody and stinky), get to a doctor.
And according to the WomensHealth.gov, there are many things you can do to prevent UTIs, including urinating before and after sex. Go to the bathroom when you need to instead of holding it, and when you wipe, go from the front to the back. Drink more water (even after sex), adequately clean your anus and vagina daily, avoid feminine hygiene sprays and douches, wear cotton undergarments, ease up on the tight pants, and go for showers instead of sitting in the tub.
But as for the initial matter, holding your urine sometimes shouldn’t hurt you. There are times when we have no choice, amirite? However, despite your busy schedule, those emails, that meeting, your lunch break and whatever else keeps you from getting up and going to the restroom like you should, you need to make time for your bladder. Or else…