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Peeing in the shower: harmless habit or hidden health hazard?

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LA Post: Peeing in the shower: harmless habit or hidden health hazard?
January 05, 2024
Nahal Garakani - LA Post

Does urine wash safely down the drain, or could peeing in the shower come back to bite you? New research reveals doing your business while bathing exposes surprising health risks between the tiles. As you stand there enjoying the steamy warmth enveloping your body, that familiar tingling urge suddenly strikes. You reason just a little pee can't hurt anything amid the soothing hot water cascading over your feet. Yet growing scientific evidence demonstrates even this seemingly harmless shower move harbors hidden hazards that could seriously dampen your day if you let down your guard while soaping up.

Repeated exposure to the falling warm liquid or bubbles may inadvertently trigger detrimental health consequences over time that most never saw coming. According to statistics, between 61% and 80% of people admit to urinating in the shower. Despite the habit's seeming benignity, several medical professionals are concerned about the bacteria and other dangers lurking within the warm, wet environment we unwittingly drench ourselves in while relieving more than just cleanliness under the faucet.

The act often occurs when people are rushing or multitasking. Busy parents may opt for efficiency, while others give in to urgency after exercise. Avoiding the hassle of exiting mid-shower proves alluring. But bacteria and other dangers could lurk in the warm, wet environment. Here are more risks linked with peeing in the shower.

Contrary to popular belief, urine is not sterile. Bacteria that cause urinary tract infections can reside in the fluid. These germs could theoretically enter open cuts on feet and legs, warned Kandis Daroski, a pelvic health physical therapist. The falling water might also trigger sudden urges to urinate for those prone to incontinence issues. Repeated exposure to running water may exacerbate symptoms for people with overactive bladders or ongoing urgency problems, according to experts.

However, specialists largely dismiss the notion of infections resulting from occasional shower urination. Urologist Dr. Fenwa Milhouse called it “completely safe,” even commending the water conservation benefit. The relaxed position of sitting on a toilet does allow for more complete emptying of the bladder, though. Standing while attempting to relieve oneself in the shower could prove difficult for some and may warrant waiting until proper facilities become available, noted doctors.

Those experiencing intense urgency should still exit to relieve themselves properly. But milder urges can often be controlled through relaxation techniques. Daroski suggested Kegel exercises, deep breathing, and distracting thoughts to “hold it” when needed. Simple interventions like these can prevent falling into detrimental patterns around bladder control that worsen over time.

For households sharing a shower, basic courtesy dictates checking with other users about the practice. Consideration and communication make cohabitation smoother in general. Regardless, the health risk to housemates appears minimal.

In the rare instance that germs lingered, direct contact with open wounds would likely be necessary to cause issues. And that would require “an open cut on the sole of their foot,” according to Milhouse. Limiting foot exposure to residual urine presents an easy safeguard as well.

While mostly harmless, urinating in the shower may irritate certain preexisting conditions when done excessively. Those prone to urinary tract infections should take extra care avoiding bacteria sources. As with any habit, moderation helps. But generally, people can relax and relieve themselves without major concern. Open dialogue with household members and medical providers allows for addressing problems early should troublesome symptoms develop.

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