We’ve all "held it" before. Maybe you avoided the port-a-potty at an outdoor venue. Or you were making good time on a long car trip and didn’t want to stop. Or perhaps you just didn’t want to get out of bed when duty called during the night.
But does maintaining a long holding pattern like this cause any problems? Will your bladder literally burst if you wait too long?
The bladder is a mighty strong organ and is unlikely to rupture just because you denied it the opportunity to empty when it’s ready. Instead, it’s more likely you’ll become increasingly uncomfortable until you finally give up and urinate. While rare, the bladder might rupture under certain non-bathroom circumstances, such as
- major trauma — for example, a pelvic fracture
- a surgical complication
- a bladder tumor that weakens a portion of the muscular bladder wall
- damage to the bladder from radiation.
Still, it’s probably not a good idea to frequently hold it. Doing so could cause bacteria to multiply, increasing your risk for urinary tract infections, especially if you’ve had prior episodes. (However, supporting evidence for this conjecture is slim.)
Over time, holding it could cause the bladder to stretch and make it difficult to contract and release urine. It also may increase the formation of kidney stones in people prone to having them.
The bottom line: If you feel the urge to go, then go. And if you are unsure of facility access before you venture out, try to go beforehand, even if you don’t feel like it. Your bladder will thank you later.
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