How Much Urine Can Your Bladder Hold?

This is part of our Fun With Pee series. Funny, curious, and even startling facts and stories about the pee our bodies make.

Can You Hold It Much Longer?

Long car rides almost always elicit a cry of, “Can we find a bathroom? I need to pee!” The general rule is, when you have to go to the bathroom,… you should go to the bathroom. If you get to the point where it hurts to hold in urine, then you need to make an emergency bathroom stop. If there’s no bathroom, you may want to make your own, laws abiding and all that.

In general, the average adult bladder can hold about 16 ounces or two cups of urine at maximum. Typically, you will feel the need to pee when your bladders is filled to about 8 ounces.

Can Holding Your Pee Hurt You?

In short, yes. But perhaps not in the way you would think. Your bladder won’t explode or anything like that, but it can be quite painful if you have to hold it for a very long time. You may stretch out bladder a bit, weakening the muscle. Over time, if this becomes a repeated habit, it may make it more difficult to empty the bladder in the future. This happens as you get older in any case, but why hurry the aging process? The real danger can happen if you continue to drink fluids without going pee.

There’s a tragic incident where a woman tried to hold it too long… and died. In a radio contest to win a Nintendo Wii, a woman actually died from Water Intoxication (water poisoning). The contest was called, “Hold your Wee for a Wii.” The idea was to see how much water a person could drink before they had to pee and could no longer hold it in. The person who could drink the required amount and hold in the pee the longest would win the Wii. What the radio station did not anticipate, however is that someone could actually die from this. And that’s exactly what happened. The woman died from a condition called water intoxication. You can read more about this tragic event here.

Water intoxication happens when electrolytes in the body get too low. This can occur, for example, when you are working out too much without replenishing electrolytes but still drink large amounts of water, or it can happen when you drink massive amounts of water in a short period of time or without urinating to release excess water from the body. Most healthy adults will never experience water intoxication unless they are taking part in a water drinking contest. Infant babies are at risk due to low body mass, and it would be easy for a baby to absorb too much water in relation to its body size.

So, just to reiterate, listen to your body. When you feel the need to pee… then GO.

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