What bad effects can holding in urine or bowel movements have?
May 23, 2006 5:11 PM   Subscribe

What bad effects can holding in urine or bowel movements have?

Can holding it in when you gotta go damage a person's body? If so, how (what does it do) and after how much abuse is this likely this happen? (This is a twofold question. A) for urine and B) for bowel movements. I am asking as far as male anatomy goes for those who are wondering.)
posted by D Wiz to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
Best answer: holding in urine = weak bladder, UTIs

holding BMs = bowel obstructions and having to leave the island without your $1 million.
posted by clh at 5:15 PM on May 23, 2006

Death. Maybe.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2006

IIRC teachers tend to have higher rates of bladder cancer, presumably because they're holding it in most of the day.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:30 PM on May 23, 2006

five fresh fish: "IIRC teachers tend to have higher rates of bladder cancer, presumably because they're holding it in most of the day."

posted by kcm at 5:36 PM on May 23, 2006

Holding in a bowel movement can cause distention of the bowel and possible divert and potentially things like diverticulosis in the future. It's also likely to result in irritable bowel syndrome and further constipation in the future.

It's not very clever, and when you end up with some of the above you'll wish you'd done the deed when your body wanted to, no matter how inconvenient it would have been.
posted by wackybrit at 6:10 PM on May 23, 2006

kcm: "IIRC" = "If I recall correctly," ergo no reference.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:17 PM on May 23, 2006

When I was a child at summer camp, I was freaked out about being away from home and that coupled with stage fright in the group bathrooms/showers and some altitude sickness for the first two days meant I purposely avoided the toilets and held it in for five days. I was 12 and IIRC it was a painful release when I got home to my very own throne, but not the end of the world.
posted by mathowie at 7:00 PM on May 23, 2006

Another childhood story. I was paranoid from the toilets at school because I saw cockroaches there, and I used to hold it till I return home. After I while of doing that habit, I started peeing blood due to some kind of UTI infection, I don't recall the details, I was 3.
posted by convex at 8:17 PM on May 23, 2006

Unfortunate accidents
posted by caddis at 8:38 PM on May 23, 2006

When in doubt let it out
posted by hortense at 9:12 PM on May 23, 2006

...interesting question.
If someone in your party refuses to go, tell them about fecal compaction. This condition occurs when a hapless hiker thinks they can “hold it in” for too long. In short, they’ve waited so long that feces has become so packed that it’s impossible to go. Hilarity ensues when your partner learns that their good friend (that is you) will have to pull the plug out with their bare hands. Fecal compaction should not be taken lightly however. It quickly leads beyond intense pain to organ damage, loss of bladder control and death. source.
In short this is no laughing matter. I wonder if my years of holding 3 liters of tea in ('cause face it, 10' to the bathroom is way too far) is the cause of my incredibly impatient bladder nowadays. Anyone know? :]
posted by aeighty at 9:56 PM on May 23, 2006

I've heard that genteel ladies on long carriage rides sometimes suffered the same fate as poor Tycho Brahe.

The death part, not the having to wear a fake copper nose most of their lives part.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:07 PM on May 23, 2006

posted by IndigoRain at 11:52 PM on May 23, 2006

I was very curious about this question and its answers myself, but I wouldn't mark any "answered" myself yet. I only get small urges to see a man about a dog, and end up simply forgetting for a number of days, by which time I need to see a Goliath about a Marmaduke -- there isn't a consistent signal, it fluctuates usually depending on my mood, usually in a Murphy's Law kind of way (such as just when about to leave the house for a trip). I, too, am interested in what health problems could develop by mere inadvertent retention.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:48 AM on May 24, 2006

Response by poster: So no exploding bladder, right? I know it sounds funny but I once heard a story about someone who held it in so long that his bladder exploded. At the time I heard it I was young and naive (and I believed it) lol.
posted by D Wiz at 2:00 PM on May 24, 2006

Response by poster: Also, it seems that the diseases listed above that are as a result of holding it in are not long term results. Ie. They are all infections and diseases that go away with treatment or time. Are there any long term results or holding it in?

TangentFilter: Why the heck isn't there an edit button on previous posts so that I can edit what I said?
posted by D Wiz at 2:05 PM on May 24, 2006

Best answer: The longer fecal matter sits in your intestines, the more water is absorbed out of it through the intestinal wall. So the poop gets hard and compacts, distending the abdomen.

When it does come out - it can hurt. Or as suggested above by aeighty, you'll need "digital" (meaning 'with finger') assistance from someone else. As a nursing student I've watched this done and will have to do it when I become a nurse. It sounds gross, but it is one of the most appreciated nursing interventions I've seen in my clinicals. The patients were in serious discomfort, and usually blessed me and the nurses with the love of God Almighty after the deed was done.

Fecal matter is waste obviously. The pressure can push out the intestinal wall into diverticulum, little pouches poking outward. Stuff can collect in them, become infected (diverticulitous). If it burst into the abdominal cavity it can lead to serious systemic infections that can cause death.

Eat lots of fiber rich foods and go when you need to. Keep the bod happy, 'cause when it's not it retaliates with pain.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:09 PM on May 24, 2006

Because that's what preview is for. Once it's posted, there is no editing.
posted by graventy at 2:39 PM on May 24, 2006

Best answer: I should add diverticulitis has typically been an older person's disease (mostly men over 50). But with most Western diets higher in enriched flours and not enough whole grain and other fiber rich foods, younger men and some women are developing out-pouches in their intestines. Unless surgically removed, they never go away. They sit there, collecting supplies to eventually make a nice environment for a little microbe condo.

Infections, and the risk of, should not be taken lightly with many more microbes becoming smarter at outfoxing antibiotics or other drug therapy.

If any body system has to make adjustments outside of it's usual action it can do so for long periods of time. But eventually the system begins to have to work too hard and breaks down. Just like a car that's not taken care of and then when you need it most it breaks down.

People that have lost even partial function of their urinary or GI system in some way or another have a myriad of painful and embarrassing problems. Abdominal pain can get pretty serious too because the surrounding muscles are used for so many movements: walking, getting up, having sex, everything. Abdominal pain makes everything hurt.

While a young person may not experience any of this stuff at all, most older people who do wish they had taken preventative protective measures when they were young.
posted by dog food sugar at 2:43 PM on May 24, 2006

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