Peeing in the shower – don’t flush ecology down the drain!

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Peeing in the shower – don’t flush ecology down the drain!

You hop in the shower, Walking on sunshine blasting from the speakers, you’re all swathed in foam, relaxing and humming blithely. Well, too bad, because you need to pee! What do you do?

Dominika Olchowik

Published: 22.11.20218 minreading time

Peeing in the shower

Illustration: Jarek Danilenko

Wet taboo

You can grapple with your bladder, rinse off quickly the remains of bliss you just felt, and sprint to the toilet, patting your body dry underway. Or: you can mix business with pleasure, pee standing on the shower floor, and have a go at the second refrain.

Am I hearing “ewww!” echoing in the distance?

Every time peeing in the shower pops up in public discourse, it brings about its fair share of controversy. In anonymous studies, 60 to 80% of people own up to peeing during shower time! And there’s no shame in that! Well, it even turns out that it can be beneficial for the environment, your health, and the thickness of your wallet ;)

Should we abhor peeing in the shower?

A few thousand years ago, our ancestors would use urine to cleanse an open wound. Currently, studying the arcana of unconventional medicine, we can come across urine therapy – a method of treatment relying on drinking one’s own urine or rubbing it into ill-stricken places (I’m only mentioning it as a tidbit, as there’s no scientific evidence to back up this form of treatment).

For some, the elixir of health, for others – an abhorring liquid.

There’s only one way to face this demon – relying on medicine and reliable data.

Mechanisms of urine creation and release

In a nutshell!

Urine originates in the kidneys, a pair of organs made of nephrons which are the basic building blocks of kidneys and consist of the renal corpuscle (i.e., glomerulus and glomerular capsule) and the renal tubule. Through the renal artery, the organ receives its supply of blood which consists of plasma, among other things. This blood plasma contains water, proteins, and other important metabolites (both precious and redundant elements). The material is then filtered by the capillaries in the glomerulus network; precious substances are reabsorbed by the renal tubule and unwanted elements get ejected.

Urine – a division

  • Primary urine – it’s composed of what’s left after blood has been filtered in the glomerulus. It not only contains the redundant metabolites, but also the valuable and precious substances which get reabsorbed into the organism (this process is called resorption).

  • Final urine – the end product which had been filtered in the nephrons; it flows down the ureters to the bladder, where it is finally voided through the urethra. It has a larger concentration of substances and smaller volume (reduced by about 98%) than primary urine.

Urinating

Urination is a process of releasing urine from the organism. The area responsible for it is located in the sacral spinal cord. The frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex houses an area responsible for voluntary control over the urge to urinate. When urine accumulates, it causes the bladder walls to tighten. The impulses from the receptors located on the walls and the urethra travel through pelvic nerves (which are part of the parasympathetic nervous system) and the hypogastric nerve to the brain.

What do we excrete when we pee?

The composition of urine can differ from person to person and depends on their diet, lifestyle, and general health condition. Its volume, in turn, is influenced by the quantity of consumed fluids or the temperature, among other things.

Final urine contains:

  • Water (around 94%)

  • Metabolites (urea, uric acid, ammonia)

  • Mineral salts (chlorides, carbonates, phosphates)

There’s no reason to fear germs or bacteria which could remain in the shower after peeing there. Peeing in the shower won’t hurt anybody. Since we’re talking… There must be some benefits to a quick pee during showering. 

Water use vs. peeing in the shower

Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, students from University of East Anglia, calculated that if 15,000 students of their Alma Mater were to pee in the shower, they would conserve as much water as one needs to fill up 26 olympic swimming pools in just one year!

Showering is eco-friendly!

One shower uses up 40 to 50 litres of water on average (assuming that we use it rationally and have installed all the available mechanisms which reduce the volume of water, simultaneously maintaining its pressure). Taking a bath, however, even if we keep it rational, usually uses twice as much water! Showering is certainly a more eco-friendly and economical alternative.

Toilets – water drinkers?

One flush of the toilet requires 3 to 6 litres of water. In single-flush toilets, the older generation type, water use is even greater – 15 litres in one go! The numbers don’t lie. If we sum it all up, we start to see the amount of money we can save if we pee in the shower – and we don’t have to sweat it much ;) Keep in mind: these are not all the benefits of peeing in the shower!

Why should you pee in the shower?

To lower your bills

Flushing your toilet may sometimes make your money go down the drain as well.

Peeing in the shower can really help reduce the water bill. Based on the data, if you give up flushing your toilet in favour of a harmless pee in the shower only once during the day, you’ll save at least a dozen or so litres of water weekly!

Besides, urinating in the shower conserves not only water, but also toilet paper. Two sheets a day can keep frequent toilet paper shopping away ;)

To take care of your urinary tract

Toilet paper can spread bacteria to the intimate areas. Inappropriate habits (e.g., incorrect way of wiping) may result in transferring the wrong bacteria from the anus to the urethra. Not to mention scented toilet paper! This, if used very often, can lead to unpleasant irritation. Urinating in the shower minimises the risk of a urinary tract infection and you, instead for paper, can reach for your favourite intimate wash.

Can this be unhealthy?

Dr Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas (an urogynaecologist) has recently shared her observations on the matter on Tik Tok – in a short video, she instructed her audience on the negative implications of urinating in the shower.

Do you remember Pavlov’s experiment? We’re talking conditioned and unconditioned responses to stimuli. Therefore, as Pavlov observed, the mere sound of a snack being prepared evoked an increased saliva production in the studied dog. Similarly, a person that merely hears the sound of running water, after having practiced peeing in the shower for a considerable amount of time, can feel an uncontrollable, spontaneous urge to urinate.

This might be especially troublesome for people suffering from any type of pelvic floor dysfunction; having no full control over their urge to pee.

Another argument against this practice, that Dr Jeffrey-Thomas shared, was the fact that the physiology of people with vaginas doesn’t allow for a complete pelvic floor relaxation when they pee standing. In other words, for people assigned female at birth, peeing in a standing or hovering position is not default (from the pelvic floor perspective). The pelvic floor generally wants to remain contracted when you’re erect, so if you force it on them to change this state, you violate the normal continence mechanisms, which might later result in urge incontinence.

Do you sometimes pee “in advance”? Let’s say you have a long journey ahead of you – you try to squeeze everything out of your bladder? This might be harmful and, in the long run, can cause you to pee more often, but in smaller volumes. Similar mechanism works when you urinate in the shower.

Athlete’s foot? Myths begone!

The urea contained in urine positively impacts the condition of skin – so much so that it is one of the most popular ingredients of products for feet care!

The truth is, you can catch athlete's foot everywhere (at a swimming pool, gym, or sauna) – even if your hygiene routine is always by the book. In numerous sources, you can come across a claim that peeing on the shower floor might be beneficial for your feet and help fight off athlete’s foot! Urea hydrates the skin, has antipruritic qualities, and directly prevents mycotic superinfections. When we urinate in the shower, we automatically rinse everything off our bodies. Despite that, some say that the quantity of precious substances excreted with urine is insufficient to change our skin’s condition in any way. It’s a myth!

Read also our article on hygiene during period.

Psst! Some people think that peeing in the shower strengthens the pelvic floor muscles and encourages practising intermittent peeing. This, however, can backfire – possible side effects might include urine retention in the bladder or painful urination. Remember to filter out your information sources!

Do you pee in the shower?

For many people, this issue is something absolutely inappropriate and repulsive. Others willingly introduce this practice into their daily bathroom routine. No matter the side you’re on, you do you! We encourage you, though, to search for “greener” solutions – even if sometimes their impact might seem insignificant, in the long run they might have an enormous influence on the environment and your home budget.

In a nutshell

  1. Peeing is a natural, physiological process which relies on excreting redundant substances with urine. Urine is 90% water; its remaining ingredients are, among other things, urea, other metabolites, and mineral salts.

  2. Excessive water consumption is harmful to the environment – it disrupts the ecosystem and increases natural reserves contamination. All over the world, eco-friendly solutions are being advocated.

  3. Why you should pee in the shower

  • You will save water (and money!).

  • You will join the ecological fight for the wellbeing of our planet.

  • You will take care of your intimate hygiene accordingly and safely.

  • You should not urinate in the shower if you suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction.

  1. D.R. Hickling, T.T. Sun, X.R. Wu, Anatomy and Physiology of the Urinary Tract: Relation to Host Defense and Microbial Infection, „Microbiology Spectrum” 2015, vol. 3, i. 4.

  2. UEA students urged to urinate in shower, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-norfolk-29552557 [Accessed 11.06.2021].

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559246/ [Accessed 01.11.2021].

Author

Dominika Olchowik
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