Pelvic health doctor has an unusual warning: Stop peeing in the shower
It does a strange thing to our brains.
One of the odd things about being human is that the sound of running water makes many of us feel like we have to go pee. Research has proven that the sound of running water can create the urge to urinate, but it hasn’t pinned down the exact reason.
The most common thought is that we are conditioned to go to the bathroom in the presence of running water, whether from a toilet or a faucet. So, much like Pavlov’s dogs salivated after hearing a bell, we are conditioned to need to use the restroom when we hear running water.
An alternative theory is that humans evolved to pee in running water because it was more hygienic than peeing on the ground. The running water carried the urine away from the communal living space, preventing the spread of diseases such as polio or norovirus. Finally, some think that the sound of running water makes us want to pee because it’s relaxing and facilitates the activity of the “parasympathetic nervous system,” which relaxes the bladder.
Regardless of why we feel the need to pee, urogynaecologist Dr. Teresa Irwin, who specializes in pelvic health and incontinence, says that we should stop doing it in the shower.
I said what I said! Unless you're struggling with total bladder emptying you need to hear this #bladdertips #pft #obgyn
“You need to stop peeing in the shower,” Dr. Irwin said in a TikTok video with over 16,000 views. “You don’t want to do it all the time because what happens is kinda like Pavlov's dog training where every time they heard a little bell ring, they'd start salivating. And your bladder, every time it hears running water, is going to want to pee. So, wherever you are washing your hands, taking a shower, washing the dishes — if there's running water, your bladder is going to be salivating because it wants to go and pee.”
The fact that we shouldn’t be peeing in the shower is big news because a 2016 poll found that 80% of adults admit to doing it. So, for those who make a tinkle in the shower part of their morning time-saving strategy, it’s time to wake up a few minutes earlier.
Recently, Upworthy shared a similar piece of advice from Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, a pelvic floor doctor, who says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case" for a similar reason because it conditions our bladder to go more frequently.
Dr. Jeffrey-Thomas says there are three levels of feeling the need to pee.
“The first one is just an awareness level that tells you that there's some urine in the bladder,” she said. “The second one is the one that tells you to make a plan to use the toilet, and the third is kind of the panic button that says, ‘Get me there right now. I'm about to overflow.’”
Then she gave a visual explanation of why going when we don’t need to teaches our bodies to signal that it’s time to pee prematurely.
#stitch with @sidneyraz I know it sounds counterintuitive and goes against everything your momma taught you - just out here trying to save your bladder 🤍
The takeaway from both stories is that we are constantly training our bladders and that it’s best to go when it's full, not because we hear running water or “just in case” before leaving the house.
- A gynecologist asked people what they would change about their visit. Thousands responded. ›
- Black Women's Health Imperative CEO Linda Goler Blount on health equity and reproductive justice ›
- Pelvic floor doctor explains why going pee ‘just in case’ is a really bad idea ›
- Should boys pee standing up? A mom sparks Reddit discussion. - Upworthy ›