Why does humming make me have to pee?
September 22, 2004 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Humming noises make me have to pee. Does this happen to anyone else? What could be causing it? [more inside]

I noticed that whenever I go into a certain room in my house (not the bathroom) I had the overwhelming urge to pee. Eventually I concluded that there was a fan in that room that was causing the problem. The low hum of the refrigerator does the same thing to me. Is this some kind of ingrained Pavlovian response, or is there another reason humming noises might send my bladder into overdrive?
posted by bonheur to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
hmm...that's pretty strange. hmm, let me meditate on it a bit. hmmm. hmmmmm. hmmmmmmmmmmm.

seriously though, my first thoughts when I saw your question were pavlovian. how long have you noticed this phenomenon? tracing the roots here is gonna be tricky because we urinate so often that it almost happens subconsciously. perhaps a particularly noisy bathroom that you frequented in your youth?
posted by mcsweetie at 11:10 AM on September 22, 2004

Sounds like you've discovered "the yellow noise".
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:11 AM on September 22, 2004

Almost reminds me of Danny Partridge's radio tooth filling. Or, was that Greg?
posted by ParisParamus at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2004

The fan in the room could be causing a drop in temperature which could be causing your need to pee. Tape the sound of humming, and play it back in a non-humming room to see if it really is the cause.

Personally, I think it's pavlovian. You probably grew up in a house with windowless toilet. (i.e. light activated extraction fan)
posted by seanyboy at 11:39 AM on September 22, 2004

Ripley's Haughey's Believe It Or Not
posted by ParisParamus at 11:47 AM on September 22, 2004

I think it's fairly well known that the sound of running water can make one want to pee. I wouldn't be surprised if this were related.
posted by jpoulos at 11:47 AM on September 22, 2004

Do you have to pee if you know the words?
posted by jpburns at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2004

I have absolutely no scientific basis for saying this, but I wonder if there's a subsonic bladder-loosening effect at work. Anyone else have a similar reaction to it?
posted by adamrice at 12:10 PM on September 22, 2004

Have you ever been hypnotized on stage, by any chance?
posted by cell at 12:27 PM on September 22, 2004

Do you have to pee if you know the words?

posted by Richat at 12:33 PM on September 22, 2004

Best answer: Actually, this is something that happens to others, yeah. I read about first in a book about Tesla. It's got more to do with vibration and frequencies than "sound" per se, at least that was my reading of it. There's a relating of the part of the book here
Another odd and humorous event happened when Tesla asked Twain to test out another of his inventions. It was a platform that could be set for a wide range of frequencies. Clemens innocently stepped on the platform and it was made to vibrate. A few moments later, Twain cursed at Tesla and headed off toward the bathroom. Certain frequencies create certain physical reactions to the body. Tesla set his machine to cause an automatic-bathroom response!
Here's another accounting of the same thing again in relation to Tesla. Apparently, there are just some frequencies of vibration that do this, 10-18Hz mainly. If you're a chick, the fridge might be in some sort of resonant frequency with your g-spot...
posted by jessamyn at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2004

Is the fan in a hairdryer and is the hairdryer in "use"
posted by stuartmm at 1:54 PM on September 22, 2004

Best answer: It happens to me as well, bonheur. Of course, I have a diagnosed bladder illness (interstitial cystitis) that pretty much means I can pee on demand. Hmm, I wonder if there`s any money in something like that? ;)

More seriously, humming noises, buzzing noises, the sound of my cat drinking water or giving herself a bath - all of these sorts of things can give me an instant urge to pee. Rapid temperature change can do it too, as can any sort of irritation, especially if that gets combined with the humming or buzzing.

After all that, I have to say that I know of nothing to be done for it, other than that each time it happens now, I try to hold off peeing for a bit to try to have more control over the issue. But I am not sure you can train yourself out of it, at least I can`t seem to. It can be a total bitch. If you find anything out about controlling it, *please* let me know. :)
posted by livii at 2:33 PM on September 22, 2004

Spider Jerusalem is missing his bowel disruptor.
posted by solistrato at 5:07 PM on September 22, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the insight. Now that I think about it, the bathroom in my childhood house did have a loud fan that came on with the lightswitch. It does seem to be a sound/vibration trigger and not a temperature trigger. Luckily, I don't wet my pants or anything, and I can talk myself out of having to go just by telling myself "hey, you only have to pee because you're in the pantry and there's that humming noise in here that sets you off." The urge passes after a minute or so.
Thank you jessamyn and livii for your links and experience, respectively. It's interesting to know that other people experience this too.
posted by bonheur at 11:15 PM on September 22, 2004

I don't remember where I read about it - but I did read that there is a small range of low frequencies which will increase your need to use the facilities.
posted by jaded at 9:26 AM on September 23, 2004

Metafilter: Spider Jerusalem is missing his bowel disruptor.

can't fuckin' stop laughing here
posted by alumshubby at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2004

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