When you actually think about it, having to pee sucks. You enjoy a refreshing beverage, then some time later — almost always at the most inconvenient moment — your pee area starts feeling like a bloated pufferfish until you make your way to the restroom and, sighing with relief, release your stream. When you consider that the average person pees up to 10 times a day (and for some, certainly more), that adds up to a lot of trips to the bathroom.
But I refuse to let my bladder dictate my life, so I’m on a mission to learn if, and how, I can train myself to hold my pee for longer (mostly so I can protect my job from robots, which apparently never need to leave their desks to pee). My first stop: The r/Truckers subreddit, where I started a thread, hoping that truckers forced to endure long drives without stopping could teach me a thing or two about not peeing.
But they mostly just tell me to pee when I need to pee. “Stop and piss,” one trucker replies. “Good Lord, if you have to hold your piss because you’re afraid you’re missing out on money, you’re doing this wrong.” Another responds with a brief science lesson to encourage me to pee when the urge strikes. “While the bladder can stretch to accommodate holding more liquid, it’s not really super good at retaining that stretch,” they explain. “Plus, if you stretch it too far, now you’ve got sore ligaments that actually reduce the fluid volume (via pain, not any actual shrinkage) and will need to go more often.” Yet another warns of infections from holding my pee for too long. “Holding it in longer puts you at a higher risk for a UTI,” they write. “Unless you wanna feel what it’s like to piss fire, just pee when you have to. Speaking from experience on this one.”
There are, however, a few truckers who provided me with actual (but pretty awful) advice for holding my pee for longer. “Superglue your d***hole shut,” one writes. “Worked for me. Now my body has adapted to sweat out any fluids.” Another replies, “You can buy catheters online without a prescription, surgilube from Amazon, and How To videos on YouTube. Problem solved.”
As much as I want to hold my pee for longer, putting glue, let alone superglue, on my peen is a no-no. So I decided to look elsewhere for advice, asking Martin — a military man who, during his numerous tours in Afghanistan, was forced to hold his pee under various circumstances (and, many times, resorted to leaking in bottles) — what he thinks about all of this. “I’m many things,” he responds, “but an expert in holding my pee for longer than necessary isn’t one of them, apart from physically restricting the flow with a pinch, or going back to sleep, despite having to pee badly.”
Huh, pinching your penis and going to sleep — those are options, but not great ones when in a conference room with at least seven other people.
What would work better, Martin says, is simply timing when you consume liquids to avoid conflicts when you inevitably need to pee down the line. “We’ve all been sat in the cinema,” he tells me. “I chucked down 0.8 liters of cola during the opening commercials, only for me to miss the ending of Men In Black III while relieving myself in the restroom. It was poor planning.” Caffeine, of course, is a diuretic, so colas, coffees and teas often make your urge to pee even stronger, too.
Brian VanHooker, my colleague, who once sat (and presumably, held a lot of pee) through a 59-hour, 22-Marvel-movie marathon for the sake of journalism, has the same advice. “I actually made sure that I pissed before every movie during the credits and any five-minute gaps, which I do religiously before movies, anyway,” he tells me. “I hate missing even a minute of a movie, so I always go beforehand.”
About to call it quits and accept a life of peeing regularly, like humans are made to, I reach out to Florida urologist Jamin Brahmbhatt, who presents me with a glimmer of hope. “Yes, you can train yourself to hold your urine in longer,” he explains. “It’s kind of like training yourself to hold your breath longer. There’s a whole class of physical therapists that focus on ‘pelvic floor rehab.’ This is where we send patients to learn techniques to help with their urinary problems — whether it’s going too much, leaking or not going enough.”
But then Brahmbhatt takes back the very hope he provided to me: “Do I recommend learning to do this? No. Your bladder is a muscle, and its function is to tell you when you’re full and need to empty. Keeping your bladder super full may sound like a good idea now, but can lead to bladder dysfunction in the future. Plus, if you’re driving around with a full bladder all the time, if you get into a car wreck, you can put yourself at risk of rupturing your bladder.”
Pelvic floor therapy, as it turns out, is more for people with actual medical issues that result in incontinence, or the inability to control when they pee, not for people like me, who just want to hold our pee for longer. And while pelvic floor training (and even simpler techniques, like keeping pee diaries) seems to work for many of them, it simply brings their bladder back to a normal level, not to one where they can hold their pee for super long periods of time.
Still, Brahmbhatt does offer up a small piece of advice for any moments when I really have to pee, but rushing to the bathroom is out of the question: Simply send thoughts elsewhere. “You may notice, during certain times of the day (for me, it’s when I’m operating), you won’t even think about your bladder, because your mind is occupied with other things,” he says. “However, when I finish a case, or I’m at home just bumming around on a Sunday, I feel like I go to the bathroom more. It’s likely because my bladder knows I’m in relaxation mode and that it’s okay to alert me more often to go empty it.”
It goes without saying, though, that thinking of something other than peeing is easier said than done when your wiener feels like an overfilled water balloon.