Urination
Overview
Urination, also known as micturition, voiding, peeing, weeing, pissing, and more rarely, emiction, is the ejection of urine
Urine
Urine is a typically sterile liquid by-product of the body that is secreted by the kidneys through a process called urination and excreted through the urethra. Cellular metabolism generates numerous by-products, many rich in nitrogen, that require elimination from the bloodstream...

 from the urinary bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

 through the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

 to the outside of the body. In healthy humans the process of urination is under voluntary control. In infants, elderly individuals and those with neurological injury, urination may occur as an involuntary
Involuntary
Involuntary is the antonym of voluntary. An involuntary action is one that occurs without volition or will; see volition and will . Involuntary may also refer to:*Involuntary , a 2008 Swedish film by Ruben Östlund...

 reflex
Reflex
A reflex action, also known as a reflex, is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. A true reflex is a behavior which is mediated via the reflex arc; this does not apply to casual uses of the term 'reflex'.-See also:...

.
Encyclopedia
Urination, also known as micturition, voiding, peeing, weeing, pissing, and more rarely, emiction, is the ejection of urine
Urine
Urine is a typically sterile liquid by-product of the body that is secreted by the kidneys through a process called urination and excreted through the urethra. Cellular metabolism generates numerous by-products, many rich in nitrogen, that require elimination from the bloodstream...

 from the urinary bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

 through the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

 to the outside of the body. In healthy humans the process of urination is under voluntary control. In infants, elderly individuals and those with neurological injury, urination may occur as an involuntary
Involuntary
Involuntary is the antonym of voluntary. An involuntary action is one that occurs without volition or will; see volition and will . Involuntary may also refer to:*Involuntary , a 2008 Swedish film by Ruben Östlund...

 reflex
Reflex
A reflex action, also known as a reflex, is an involuntary and nearly instantaneous movement in response to a stimulus. A true reflex is a behavior which is mediated via the reflex arc; this does not apply to casual uses of the term 'reflex'.-See also:...

. In other animals
Kingdom (biology)
In biology, kingdom is a taxonomic rank, which is either the highest rank or in the more recent three-domain system, the rank below domain. Kingdoms are divided into smaller groups called phyla or divisions in botany...

, in addition to expelling waste material, urination can mark territory or express submissiveness. Physiologically, micturition involves coordination between the central
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

, autonomic
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 and somatic nervous system
Somatic nervous system
The somatic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system associated with the voluntary control of body movements via skeletal muscles...

s. Brain centers that regulate urination include the pontine micturition center
Pontine micturition center
The Pontine micturition center is a collection of cell bodies located in the rostral pons in the brainstem that is involved in the supraspinal regulation of micturition . The PMC makes connections with other brain centers to control micturition, including the hypothalamus, the cerebral cortex and...

, periaqueductal gray
Periaqueductal gray
Periaqueductal gray is the gray matter located around the cerebral aqueduct within the tegmentum of the midbrain. It plays a role in the descending modulation of pain and in defensive behaviour...

, and the cerebral cortex
Cerebral cortex
The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is outermost to the cerebrum of the mammalian brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is constituted of up to six horizontal layers, each of which has a different...

. In males urine is ejected through the penis
Penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

, and in females through the urethral opening.

Anatomy of the bladder and outlet

The main organs involved in urination are the urinary bladder
Urinary bladder
The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

 and the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

. The smooth muscle
Smooth muscle
Smooth muscle is an involuntary non-striated muscle. It is divided into two sub-groups; the single-unit and multiunit smooth muscle. Within single-unit smooth muscle tissues, the autonomic nervous system innervates a single cell within a sheet or bundle and the action potential is propagated by...

 of the bladder, known as the detrusor, is innervated by sympathetic nervous system
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 fibers from the lumbar
Lumbar
In tetrapod anatomy, lumbar is an adjective that means of or pertaining to the abdominal segment of the torso, between the diaphragm and the sacrum ...

 spinal cord
Spinal cord
The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells that extends from the brain . The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system...

 and parasympathetic fibers from the sacral
Sacral
Sacral may refer to:*sacred*sacrum...

 spinal cord. Fibers in the pelvic nerves constitute the main afferent limb of the voiding reflex; the parasympathetic fibers to the bladder that constitute the excitatory efferent limb also travel in these nerves. Part of the urethra is surrounded by the external urethral sphincter, which is innervated by the somatic pudendal nerve
Pudendal nerve
The pudendal nerve is a sensory and somatic nerve in the pelvic region which is a large branch of the sacral plexus that innervates the external genitalia of both sexes, as well as sphincters for the bladder and the rectum...

 originating in the cord, in an area termed Onuf's nucleus
Onuf's nucleus
Onuf’s nucleus is a distinct group of neurons located in the ventral part of the anterior horn of the sacral region of the human spinal cord involved in the maintenance of micturition and defecatory continence, as well as muscular contraction during orgasm. It contains motor neurons, and is the...

.

Smooth muscle bundles pass on either side of the urethra, and these fibers are sometimes called the internal urethral sphincter, although they do not encircle the urethra. Farther along the urethra is a sphincter of skeletal muscle, the sphincter of the membranous urethra (external urethral sphincter). The bladder's epithelium is termed transitional epithelium which contains a superficial layer of dome-like cells and multiple layers of stratified cuboidal cells underneath when evacuated. When the bladder is fully distended the superficial cells become squamous (flat) and the stratification of the cuboidal is reduced in order to provide lateral stretching.

Physiology

The physiology of micturition and the physiologic basis of its disorders are subjects about which there is much confusion, especially at the supraspinal level. Micturition is fundamentally a spinobulbospinal reflex facilitated and inhibited by higher brain centers such as the pontine micturition center
Pontine micturition center
The Pontine micturition center is a collection of cell bodies located in the rostral pons in the brainstem that is involved in the supraspinal regulation of micturition . The PMC makes connections with other brain centers to control micturition, including the hypothalamus, the cerebral cortex and...

 and, like defecation
Defecation
Defecation is the final act of digestion by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid or liquid waste material from the digestive tract via the anus. Waves of muscular contraction known as peristalsis in the walls of the colon move fecal matter through the digestive tract towards the rectum...

, subject to voluntary facilitation and inhibition.

In healthy individuals, the lower urinary tract has two discrete phases of activity: the storage (or guarding) phase, when urine is stored in the bladder; and the voiding phase, when urine is released through the urethra. The state of the reflex system is dependent on both a conscious signal from the brain and the firing rate of sensory fibers from the bladder and urethra. At low bladder volumes, afferent firing is low, resulting in excitation of the outlet (the sphincter and urethra), and relaxation of the bladder. At high bladder volumes, afferent firing increases, causing a conscious sensation of urinary urge. When the individual is ready to urinate, he or she consciously initiates voiding, causing the bladder to contract and the outlet to relax. Voiding continues until the bladder empties completely, at which point the bladder relaxes and the outlet contracts to re-initiate storage. The muscles controlling micturition are controlled by the autonomic
Autonomic nervous system
The autonomic nervous system is the part of the peripheral nervous system that acts as a control system functioning largely below the level of consciousness, and controls visceral functions. The ANS affects heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation, perspiration, diameter of the pupils,...

 and somatic nervous systems. During the storage phase the internal urethral sphincter remains tense and the detrusor muscle relaxed by sympathetic
Sympathetic nervous system
The sympathetic nervous system is one of the three parts of the autonomic nervous system, along with the enteric and parasympathetic systems. Its general action is to mobilize the body's nervous system fight-or-flight response...

 stimulation. During micturition, parasympathetic
Parasympathetic nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system is one of the two main divisions of the autonomic nervous system . The ANS is responsible for regulation of internal organs and glands, which occurs unconsciously...

 stimulation causes the detrusor muscle to contract and the internal urethral sphincter to relax. The external urethral sphincter (sphincter urethrae) is under somatic control and is consciously relaxed during micturition.

It is commonly believed that in infants, voiding occurs involuntarily (as a reflex). However, the practice of elimination communication
Elimination communication
Elimination communication is a toilet training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies' bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place...

 suggests otherwise. The ability to voluntarily inhibit micturition develops by the age of 2–3 years, as control at higher levels of the central nervous system develops. In the adult, the volume of urine in the bladder that normally initiates a reflex contraction is about 300–400 ml.

Storage phase

During storage, bladder pressure stays low, because of the bladder's highly compliant nature. A plot of bladder (intravesical) pressure against the depressant of fluid in the bladder (called a cystometrogram) will show a very slight rise as the bladder is filled. This phenomenon is a manifestation of the law of Laplace
Young–Laplace equation
In physics, the Young–Laplace equation is a nonlinear partial differential equation that describes the capillary pressure difference sustained across the interface between two static fluids, such as water and air, due to the phenomenon of surface tension or wall tension, although usage on the...

, which states that the pressure in a spherical viscus is equal to twice the wall tension divided by the radius. In the case of the bladder, the tension increases as the organ fills, but so does the radius. Therefore, the pressure increase is slight until the organ is relatively full. The bladder's smooth muscle has some inherent contractile activity; however, when its nerve supply is intact, stretch receptors in the bladder wall initiate a reflex contraction that has a lower threshold than the inherent contractile response of the muscle.

Action potentials carried by sensory neurons from stretch receptors in the urinary bladder wall travel to the sacral segments of the spinal cord through the pelvic nerves. Since bladder wall stretch is low during the storage phase, these afferent neurons fire at low frequencies. Low-frequency afferent signals cause relaxation of the bladder by inhibiting sacral parasympathetic preganglionic neurons and exciting lumbar sympathetic preganglionic neurons. Conversely, afferent input causes contraction of the sphincter through excitation of Onuf's nucleus, and contraction of the bladder neck and urethra through excitation of the sympathetic preganglionic neurons.

Diuresis
Polyuria
Polyuria is a condition usually defined as excessive or abnormally large production or passage of urine . Frequent urination is sometimes included by definition, but is nonetheless usually an accompanying symptom...

 (production of urine by the kidney) occurs constantly, and as the bladder becomes full, afferent firing increases, yet the micturition reflex can be voluntarily inhibited until it is appropriate to begin voiding.

Voiding phase

Voiding begins when a voluntary signal is sent from the brain to begin urination, and continues until the bladder is empty.

Bladder afferent signals ascend the spinal cord to the periaqueductal gray
Periaqueductal gray
Periaqueductal gray is the gray matter located around the cerebral aqueduct within the tegmentum of the midbrain. It plays a role in the descending modulation of pain and in defensive behaviour...

, where they project both to the pontine micturition center
Pontine micturition center
The Pontine micturition center is a collection of cell bodies located in the rostral pons in the brainstem that is involved in the supraspinal regulation of micturition . The PMC makes connections with other brain centers to control micturition, including the hypothalamus, the cerebral cortex and...

 and to the cerebrum. At a certain level of afferent activity, the conscious urge to void becomes difficult to ignore. Once the voluntary signal to begin voiding has been issued, neurons in pontine micturition center fire maximally, causing excitation of sacral preganglionic neurons. The firing of these neurons causes the wall of the bladder to contract; as a result, a sudden, sharp rise in intravesical pressure occurs. The pontine micturition center also causes inhibition of Onuf's nucleus, resulting in relaxation of the external urinary sphincter. When the external urinary sphincter is relaxed urine is released from the urinary bladder when the pressure there is great enough to force urine to flow out of the urethra. The micturition reflex normally produces a series of contractions of the urinary bladder.

The flow of urine through the urethra has an overall excitatory role in micturition, which helps sustain voiding until the bladder is empty.

After urination, the female urethra empties by gravity. Urine remaining in the urethra of the male is expelled by several contractions of the bulbospongiosus muscle
Bulbospongiosus muscle
Bulbospongiosus is one of the superficial muscles of the perineum. It has a slightly different origin, insertion and function in males and females. In males, it covers the bulb of the penis...

.

Voluntary control

The mechanism by which voluntary urination is initiated remains unsettled. One possibility is that the voluntary relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic floor causes a sufficient downward tug on the detrusor muscle to initiate its contraction. Another possibility is the excitation or disinhibition of neurons in the pontine micturition center, which causes concurrent contraction of the bladder and relaxation of the sphincter.

There is an inhibitory area for micturition in the midbrain. After transection of the brain stem just above the pons, the threshold is lowered and less bladder filling is required to trigger it, whereas after transection at the top of the midbrain, the threshold for the reflex is essentially normal. There is another facilitatory area in the posterior hypothalamus. In humans with lesions in the superior frontal gyrus, the desire to urinate is reduced and there is also difficulty in stopping micturition once it has commenced. However, stimulation experiments in animals indicate that other cortical areas also affect the process.

The bladder can be made to contract by voluntary facilitation of the spinal voiding reflex when it contains only a few milliliters of urine. Voluntary contraction of the abdominal muscles aids the expulsion of urine by increasing the pressure applied to the urinary bladder wall, but voiding can be initiated without straining even when the bladder is nearly empty.

Voiding can also be consciously interrupted once it has begun, through a contraction of the perineal muscles and the external sphincter can be contracted voluntarily, which will prevent urine from passing down the urethra.

The other way around, voiding can be facilitated by immersing a hand in a cup or sink full of warm water. The mechanism is unclear. The phenomenon (and perhaps immersion diuresis
Immersion diuresis
Immersion diuresis is a type of diuresis caused by immersion of the body in water . It is mainly caused by lower temperature and by pressure....

) has given rise to the trick of immersing the hand of a sleeping person in water to make this victim urinate in sleep, although the efficacy of the trick is disputed.

Experience of urination

The need to urinate is experienced as an uncomfortable, full, feeling. It is highly correlated with the fullness of the bladder. In many males the feeling of the need to urinate can be sensed at the base of the penis as well as the bladder, even though the neural activity associated with a full bladder comes from the bladder itself, and can be felt there as well. In females the need to urinate is felt in the lower abdomen region when the bladder is full. When the bladder becomes too full, the sphincter muscles will involuntarily relax, allowing urine to pass from the bladder.

Release of urine is experienced as a lessening of the uncomfortable, full, feeling. In most people this release is experienced as a relief.

Post-micturition convulsion syndrome
Post-micturition convulsion syndrome
Post-micturition convulsion syndrome, also colloquially known as pee shivers, piss shivers, or piss quiver, is a phenomenon in which one feels a shiver running down the spine following urination....

, the feeling of a shiver running down the spine following urination, occurs in most males and many females.

Disorders

Clinical conditions

Many clinical conditions can cause disturbances to normal urination. Here is a partial list:
  • Urinary incontinence
    Urinary incontinence
    Urinary incontinence is any involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common and distressing problem, which may have a profound impact on quality of life. Urinary incontinence almost always results from an underlying treatable medical condition but is under-reported to medical practitioners...

    , or the inability to hold urine
    • Stress urinary incontinence, incontinence that occurs as a result of external mechanical disturbances
    • Urge urinary incontinence, incontinence that occurs as a result of the uncontrollable urge to urinate
    • Mixed urinary incontinence, a combination of the two types of incontinence
  • Urinary retention
    Urinary retention
    Urinary retention, also known as ischuria, is a lack of ability to urinate. It is a common complication of benign prostatic hyperplasia , although it can also be caused by nerve dysfunction, constipation, infection, or medications...

    , the inability to initiate urination
  • Overactive bladder
    Overactive bladder
    Overactive bladder is a urological condition defined by a set of symptoms: urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with frequency and nocturia. Frequency is usually defined as urinating more than 8 times a day. The International Continence Society is responsible for this definition...

    , a strong urge to urinate, usually accompanied by detrusor overactivity
  • Interstitial cystitis
    Interstitial cystitis
    Interstitial cystitis or bladder pain syndrome is a chronic, oftentimes severely debilitating disease of the urinary bladder...

    , a condition characterized by urinary frequency, urgency, and pain
  • Prostatitis
    Prostatitis
    Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland, in men. A prostatitis diagnosis is assigned at 8% of all urologist and 1% of all primary care physician visits in the United States.-Classification:...

    , an inflammation of the prostate gland that can cause urinary frequency, urgency, and pain
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia
    Benign prostatic hyperplasia
    Benign prostatic hyperplasia also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy , benign enlargement of the prostate , and adenofibromyomatous hyperplasia, refers to the increase in size of the prostate....

    , an enlargement of the prostate that can cause urinary frequency, urgency, retention, and the dribbling of urine
  • Urinary tract infection
    Urinary tract infection
    A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract. Symptoms include frequent feeling and/or need to urinate, pain during urination, and cloudy urine. The main causal agent is Escherichia coli...

    , which can cause urinary frequency and dysuria
    Dysuria
    In medicine, specifically urology, dysuria refers to painful urination.Difficult urination is also sometimes described as dysuria.It is one of a constellation of irritative bladder symptoms, which includes urinary frequency and haematuria....

  • Oliguria
    Oliguria
    Oliguria is the low output of urine, It is clinically classified as an output below 300-500ml/day. The decreased output of urine may be a sign of dehydration, renal failure, hypovolemic shock, HHNS Hyperosmolar Hyperglycemic Nonketotic Syndrome, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, urinary...

     refers to a low urine output, usually due to a problem with the upper urinary tract
  • Anuria
    Anuria
    Anuria means nonpassage of urine, in practice is defined as passage of less than 50 milliliters of urine in a day. Anuria is often caused by failure in the function of kidneys. It may also occur because of some severe obstruction like kidney stones or tumours. It may occur with end stage renal...

     refers to absent or almost absent urine output.
  • Paruresis
    Paruresis
    Paruresis is a type of phobia in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the presence of others, such as in a public restroom. It most commonly affects males, though there are female sufferers too...

     is the inability to urinate in the presence of others, such as in a public restroom.

Experimentally induced disorders

There are three major types of bladder dysfunction due to neural lesions: (1) the type due to interruption of the afferent nerves from the bladder; (2) the type due to interruption of both afferent and efferent nerves; and (3) the type due to interruption of facilitatory and inhibitory pathways descending from the brain. In all three types the bladder contracts, but the contractions are generally not sufficient to empty the viscus completely, and residual urine is left in the bladder. Paruresis
Paruresis
Paruresis is a type of phobia in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the presence of others, such as in a public restroom. It most commonly affects males, though there are female sufferers too...

, also known as shy bladder syndrome, is an example of a bladder interruption from the brain that often causes total interruption until the person has left a public area.

Effects of deafferentation

When the sacral dorsal roots are cut in experimental animals or interrupted by diseases of the dorsal roots such as tabes dorsalis in humans, all reflex contractions of the bladder are abolished. The bladder becomes distended, thin-walled, and hypotonic, but there are some contractions because of the intrinsic response of the smooth muscle to stretch.

Effects of denervation

When the afferent and efferent nerves are both destroyed, as they may be by tumors of the cauda equina or filum terminale, the bladder is flaccid and distended for a while. Gradually, however, the muscle of the "decentralized bladder" becomes active, with many contraction waves that expel dribbles of urine out of the urethra. The bladder becomes shrunken and the bladder wall hypertrophied. The reason for the difference between the small, hypertrophic bladder seen in this condition and the distended, hypotonic bladder seen when only the afferent nerves are interrupted is not known. The hyperactive state in the former condition suggests the development of denervation hypersensitization even though the neurons interrupted are preganglionic rather than postganglionic.

Effects of spinal cord transection

During spinal shock, the bladder is flaccid and unresponsive. It becomes overfilled, and urine dribbles through the sphincters (overflow incontinence). After spinal shock has passed, the voiding reflex returns, although there is, of course, no voluntary control and no inhibition or facilitation from higher centers when the spinal cord is transected. Some paraplegic patients train themselves to initiate voiding by pinching or stroking their thighs, provoking a mild mass reflex. In some instances, the voiding reflex becomes hyperactive. Bladder capacity is reduced, and the wall becomes hypertrophied. This type of bladder is sometimes called the spastic neurogenic bladder. The reflex hyperactivity is made worse by, and may be caused by, infection in the bladder wall.

Techniques

Due to sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

, and the positions where the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

 ends, some societies believe males and females need use different techniques for urination.

Male urination

Many males urinate standing. Extant foreskin (acropostheon) may block the direct path of the outgoing stream by causing turbulence
Turbulence
In fluid dynamics, turbulence or turbulent flow is a flow regime characterized by chaotic and stochastic property changes. This includes low momentum diffusion, high momentum convection, and rapid variation of pressure and velocity in space and time...

, resulting in a slower but thicker stream of urine that may also dribble. A retracted or absent foreskin may have a more focused stream of urine that travels at the same speed as it exits the urethra
Urethra
In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

. When some males are done urinating, they will usually shake and/or gently squeeze their penis to expel the excess urine trapped in the opening of the foreskin or on the glans
Glans penis
The glans penis is the sensitive bulbous structure at the distal end of the penis. The glans penis is anatomically homologous to the clitoral glans of the female...

. Trousers
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

 commonly have a fly
Fly (clothing)
A fly on clothing is a covering over an opening join concealing the mechanism, such as a zip, velcro or buttons, used to join the opening. The term is most frequently applied to a short opening over the groin in trousers, shorts and other garments, which makes them easier to put on or take off and...

 allowing men to urinate without lowering the whole trousers. Trousers without a fly, like some jogging trousers, usually have an elastic waist band allowing the male to lower the front side like underpants. Some men also urinate sitting down, (for some) mostly when defecation
Defecation
Defecation is the final act of digestion by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid or liquid waste material from the digestive tract via the anus. Waves of muscular contraction known as peristalsis in the walls of the colon move fecal matter through the digestive tract towards the rectum...

 occurs at the same time.

Female urination

In females, the urethra opens straight into the vulva
Vulva
The vulva consists of the external genital organs of the female mammal. This article deals with the vulva of the human being, although the structures are similar for other mammals....

. Because of this, the urine often does not exit at a distance from the body and is therefore seen as harder to control. Hence, in many Western cultures, urination will often take place while sitting
Sitting
Sitting is a rest position supported by the buttocks or thighs where the torso is more or less upright.- Sitting on the floor :The most common way of sitting on the floor involves bending the knees...

 on a toilet, like defecation. When not urinating into a toilet, squatting
Squatting position
Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet but the knees are bent either fully or partially . In contrast, sitting, involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object such as a chair seat...

 is one way for a female to direct the urine stream. If done this way, the urine will often go forward downwards. Some females use one or both hands to focus the direction of the urine stream.

It is also possible for females to urinate while standing, and while clothed (the "nonprotruding" nature of the average female urethra is not an issue, as one can, for example, pull down one's trousers and expose the vulva). If a female wears a sarong
Sarong
A sarong or sarung is a large tube or length of fabric, often wrapped around the waist and worn as a kilt by men and as a skirt by women throughout much of South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Horn of Africa, and on many Pacific islands. The fabric most often has woven plaid or...

, skirt
Skirt
A skirt is a tube- or cone-shaped garment that hangs from the waist and covers all or part of the legs.In the western world, skirts are usually considered women's clothing. However, there are exceptions...

, or other such open bottomed garments, uncovering the vulva and merely spreading the legs may be enough to place the urine stream away from the body and clothes. The urine may or may not travel more or less straight down. Many females can also angle their urine away from the body, and any lowered trousers or other garments much as males can, by spreading the labia minora
Labia minora
The labia minora , also known as the inner labia, inner lips, or nymphae, are two flaps of skin on either side of the human vaginal opening, situated between the labia majora...

 and, in some cases, orienting the pelvis
Pelvis
In human anatomy, the pelvis is the lower part of the trunk, between the abdomen and the lower limbs .The pelvis includes several structures:...

 at an angle. Reports indicate that it is common that women in the Ivory Coast
Côte d'Ivoire
The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire or Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. It has an area of , and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of Guinea. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998 and was estimated to be...

 use this method when they urinate. Some sources seem to indicate that women urinate this way in West Africa in general. Other reports indicate, however, that it seems to be less common for women to urinate standing in West Africa, while it has been reported that it is common that women urinate standing up in the streets in Malawi
Malawi
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size...

. In Ghana, signs which forbid public urination often show a picture of a female urinating like this. Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 is a country where it is common for women to urinate standing. There are reports that seem to indicate that in Togo
Togo
Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

 women urinate using this method, while men do it squatting. Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 described a similar custom in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

.

An alternative method for women to urinate standing is to use a tool known as a female urination device
Female urination device
A female urination device or female urination aid is a device which aids a female to urinate while standing upright. Variations include basic funnel shapes to more obscure and comedic designs...

 to assist.

Urination after injury

Occasionally, if a male's penis is damaged or removed, or a female's genitals/urinary tract is damaged, other urination techniques must be used. Most often in such cases, doctors will reposition the urethra to a location where urination can still be accomplished, usually in a position that would only promote urination while seated/squatting, though a permanent urinary catheter
Urinary catheterization
In urinary catheterization , a latex, polyurethane or silicone tube known as a urinary catheter is inserted into a patient's bladder via his or her urethra. Catheterization allows the patient's urine to drain freely from the bladder for collection. It may be used to inject liquids used for...

 may be used in rare cases.

Toilet training

Babies have little socialized control over urination within traditions or families that do not practice elimination communication
Elimination communication
Elimination communication is a toilet training practice in which a caregiver uses timing, signals, cues, and intuition to address an infant's need to eliminate waste. Caregivers try to recognize and respond to babies' bodily needs and enable them to urinate and defecate in an appropriate place...

 and instead use diaper
Diaper
A nappy or a diaper is a kind of pant that allows one to defecate or urinate on oneself discreetly. When diapers become soiled, they require changing; this process is often performed by a second person such as a parent or caregiver...

s. Toilet training
Toilet training
Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device...

 is the process of learning to restrict urination to socially approved times and situations. Consequently, young children sometimes suffer from nocturnal enuresis.

Toilets

It is socially more accepted and more environmentally hygienic for those who are able to urinate in a toilet
Toilet
A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory...

. In some countries, public toilets are separated for men and women, and may be partitioned for reasons of cultural modesty
Modesty
Standards of modesty are aspects of the culture of a country or people, at a given point in time, and is a measure against which an individual in society may be judged....

.

Urinals

Public toilets may have urinals, usually for males, although female urinals exist, designed to be used in one of several ways. Urinals for either sex may have partitions between them in order to increase privacy
Privacy
Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively...

. People who are affected by paruresis
Paruresis
Paruresis is a type of phobia in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the presence of others, such as in a public restroom. It most commonly affects males, though there are female sufferers too...

, or "shy bladder syndrome," may have difficulty urinating in the presence of others and will consequently avoid using urinals directly adjacent to another person. Alternatively, they may opt for the privacy of a stall or simply avoid public toilets altogether.

Urination without facilities

Acceptability of outdoor urination in a public place other than at a public urinal varies with the situation and with customs. Potential disadvantages include the smell of urine, and some exposure of genitals. The latter can be unpleasant for the one who exposes them (modesty
Modesty
Standards of modesty are aspects of the culture of a country or people, at a given point in time, and is a measure against which an individual in society may be judged....

, lack of privacy
Privacy
Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively...

) and/or those who can see them; it can be avoided or mitigated by going to a quiet place, and/or, facing a tree or wall if urinating standing up, or whilst squatting, hiding the back behind walls, bushes, or a tree.

The more developed and crowded a place is the more urination tends to be objectionable. In the countryside and in the middle of nowhere, it is more acceptable than in a street in a town. In the latter case it is a common transgression. Often this is done after the consumption of alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

s. The alcohol causes production of additional urine as well as a reduction of inhibition
Social inhibition
Social inhibition is a conscious or subconscious constraint by a person of behaviour of a social nature. The constraint may be in relation to behavior, appearance, or a subject matter for discussion, besides other matters. There are a number of reasons for social inhibitions, including that the...

s. In many places, public urination is punishable by fine, though attitudes vary widely by country. It is often more accepted in Europe and Asia for males but tends to be socially objectionable for females in most customs.

At one time in the UK, it was legal for a man to urinate in public, so long as it occurred on the rear wheel of his vehicle and he had his right hand on the vehicle. The laws allowing this were the Hackney Carriage Laws, which were repealed in 1976. Public urination still remains more accepted by males in the UK, although British cultural tradition itself seems to find such practices objectionable. Depending on the culture, adult women, unlike men, are restricted in where they can urinate.

According to some medical studies, women generally need to urinate more frequently than men. Resisting the urge to urinate because of lack of facilities can promote urinary tract infections which can lead to more serious infections and, in rare situations, can cause renal damage
Renal failure
Renal failure or kidney failure describes a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to adequately filter toxins and waste products from the blood...

 in women. Female urination device
Female urination device
A female urination device or female urination aid is a device which aids a female to urinate while standing upright. Variations include basic funnel shapes to more obscure and comedic designs...

s also claim to allow women to urinate discreetly.

Alternative urination tools

Sometimes urination is done in a container such as a bottle, urinal
Urinal (health care)
A urinal is a bottle for urination. It is most frequently used in health care for patients who find it impossible or difficult to get out of bed...

, bedpan or chamber pot
Chamber pot
A chamber pot is a bowl-shaped container with a handle, and often a lid, kept in the bedroom under a bed or in the cabinet of a nightstand and...

, also known as a gazunder, e.g., in case of lying sick in bed, in the case that the urine has to be examined (for medical reasons, or for a drug test
Doping (sport)
The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport is commonly referred to by the term "doping", particularly by those organizations that regulate competitions. The use of performance enhancing drugs is mostly done to improve athletic performance. This is why many sports ban the use of performance...

), or when no toilet is available, and there is no other possibility to dispose of the urine right away. See also Bedpan use and output measurement.

For the latter application a more expensive solution (hence for special occasions while traveling etc.) is a special disposable bag containing absorbent material that solidifies the urine within ten seconds, making it convenient and safe to keep. If used in the presence of others, there is still the issue of privacy; it is hardly suitable in public transport, because if there is no toilet there is typically no other place to withdraw either; depending on social aspects and/or possibilities to withdraw it may or may not be suitable in a car, boat, private plane, etc., shared with others. Such a bag can also be used for vomiting
Vomiting
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose...

, should one experience motion sickness
Motion sickness
Motion sickness or kinetosis, also known as travel sickness, is a condition in which a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system's sense of movement...

.

It is possible for both sexes to urinate into bottles in case of emergencies. The technique can help the sickly and the children to urinate discreetly inside cars and in other places without being seen by others.

Talking about urination

In many societies and in many social classes, even mentioning the need to urinate is seen as a social transgression
Faux pas
A faux pas is a violation of accepted social norms . Faux pas vary widely from culture to culture, and what is considered good manners in one culture can be considered a faux pas in another...

, despite it being a universal need. Even today, many adults avoid stating that they need to urinate.

Many expressions exist, some euphemistic
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 and some vulgar. For example, centuries ago the standard English word (both noun and verb, for the product and the activity) was "piss", but this was softened into "pee". Since elimination of bodily wastes is, of necessity, a subject talked about with toddlers during toilet training
Toilet training
Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device...

, other expressions considered suitable for use by and with children exist, and some continue to be used by adults, e.g. "weeing", "doing/having a wee-wee", "to tinkle", "potty".

Other expressions include "squirting" and "taking a leak", and, predominantly by younger persons for outdoor female urination, "popping a squat", referring to the position many women adopt in such circumstances. National varieties of English show creativity. American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 uses "to whiz". Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

 has coined "I am off to take a Chinese singing lesson", derived from the tinkling sound of urination against the China porcelain of a toilet bowl. British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

 uses "going to see my aunt", "going to see a man about a dog", "to piddle", "to splash (one's) boots", as well as "to have a slash", which originates from the Scottish term
Scottish English
Scottish English refers to the varieties of English spoken in Scotland. It may or may not be considered distinct from the Scots language. It is always considered distinct from Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language....

 for a large splash of liquid. One of the most common, albeit old-fashioned, euphemisms in British English is "to spend a penny", a reference to coin-operated pay toilet
Pay toilet
A pay toilet is a public toilet that requires money payment of any individual to use. It may be street furniture or be inside a building, e.g. a mall, department store, railway station, restaurant, etc. The reason for charging money for using toilets usually is for the maintenance of the...

s, which used (pre-decimalisation
Decimal Day
Decimal Day was the day the United Kingdom and Ireland decimalised their currencies.-Old system:Under the old currency of pounds, shillings and pence, the pound was made up of 240 pence , with 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a...

) to charge that sum.

Depicting urination

Urination has been depicted in such artworks as Manneken Pis
Manneken Pis
, is a famous Brussels landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. It was designed by Jerome Duquesnoy and put in place in 1618 or 1619...

. Some pornography depicts urination; see also urolagnia
Urolagnia
Urolagnia is a paraphilia in which sexual excitement is associated with the sight or thought of urine or urination. The term has origins in the Greek Language .Those who enjoy urolagnia may enjoy urinating on another person or persons, or being urinated upon...

.

Animals

While the primary purpose of urination is the same across the animal kingdom
Kingdom (biology)
In biology, kingdom is a taxonomic rank, which is either the highest rank or in the more recent three-domain system, the rank below domain. Kingdoms are divided into smaller groups called phyla or divisions in botany...

, urination often serves a social purpose beyond the expulsion of waste material. In dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s and other animals, urination can mark territory or express submissiveness. In small rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s such as rats and mice, it marks familiar paths.

The urine and urination of animals of differing physiology
Physiology
Physiology is the science of the function of living systems. This includes how organisms, organ systems, organs, cells, and bio-molecules carry out the chemical or physical functions that exist in a living system. The highest honor awarded in physiology is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or...

 or sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

 sometimes have different characteristics. For example, the urine of birds and reptiles is whitish, consisting of a pastelike suspension of uric acid crystals, and discharged with the feces
Feces
Feces, faeces, or fæces is a waste product from an animal's digestive tract expelled through the anus or cloaca during defecation.-Etymology:...

 of the animal via the cloaca
Cloaca
In zoological anatomy, a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tracts of certain animal species...

, whereas mammals' urine is a yellowish colour, with mostly urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

 instead of uric acid, and is discharged via the urethra, separately from the feces
Feces
Feces, faeces, or fæces is a waste product from an animal's digestive tract expelled through the anus or cloaca during defecation.-Etymology:...

. Some animals' (example: carnivore
Carnivore
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging...

s') urine possesses a strong odour, especially when it is used to mark territory or communicate in other ways. A male fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

 raises one hind leg and his urine is sprayed forward in front of him, whereas a female fox squats down so that the urine is sprayed in the ground between the hind legs. Four-legged animals
Quadruped
Quadrupedalism is a form of land animal locomotion using four limbs or legs. An animal or machine that usually moves in a quadrupedal manner is known as a quadruped, meaning "four feet"...

 usually kneel, or lift or spread one or more legs, to complete full urination.

Use in language

References to peeing and pissing are commonly used in slang
Slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

. Usage includes:
  • Piss off (to anger someone)
  • Pissing down (to refer to heavy rain)
  • Pissing contest
    Pissing contest
    A pissing contest, or pissing match, is a game in which participants compete to see who can urinate the highest, the farthest, or the most accurately. Although the practice is often associated with adolescent boys, women have been known to play the game, and there are literary depictions of adults...

     (an unproductive ego-driven battle)
  • Pisshead (vulgar way to refer to someone who drinks too much)
  • Pissant
    Pissant
    A pissant, also seen as piss-ant and piss ant, is one or the other of two specific types of ant. Its origin is with pismire, a 14th-century word for ant. The term is also used as an insulting noun, and a pejorative adjective...

     (a worthless person; in non-slang usage the term refers to several species of ant whose colonies have a urine-like odor)
  • Pissing up a flagpole (to partake in a futile activity)
  • Piss away (to squander or use wastefully)

See also

  • Defecation
    Defecation
    Defecation is the final act of digestion by which organisms eliminate solid, semisolid or liquid waste material from the digestive tract via the anus. Waves of muscular contraction known as peristalsis in the walls of the colon move fecal matter through the digestive tract towards the rectum...

  • History of toilets
  • Human positions
  • Micturition syncope
    Micturition syncope
    Micturition syncope or post-micturition syncope is the name given to the human phenomenon of fainting shortly after or during urination.People often become pale, nauseated, sweaty and weak before they lose consciousness...

  • Omorashi
    Omorashi
    is a fetish subculture recognized predominantly in Japan, in which participants experience arousal from having a full bladder or a sexual attraction to someone else experiencing the feeling of a full urinary bladder. Outside of Japan, it is not usually identified separately from urolagnia , though...

  • Stadium buddy
    Stadium buddy
    thumb|The condom catheterA Stadium buddy is an apparatus which consists of a collecting bag fastened around the leg and tubing that attaches to a condom catheter. The hood attaches over the penis but, unlike a condom, has a plug for the tube where the condom's reservoir tip would normally be...

     (device)
  • Urethra
    Urethra
    In anatomy, the urethra is a tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids out of the body. In males, the urethra travels through the penis, and carries semen as well as urine...

  • Urinary bladder
    Urinary bladder
    The urinary bladder is the organ that collects urine excreted by the kidneys before disposal by urination. A hollow muscular, and distensible organ, the bladder sits on the pelvic floor...

  • Urolagnia
    Urolagnia
    Urolagnia is a paraphilia in which sexual excitement is associated with the sight or thought of urine or urination. The term has origins in the Greek Language .Those who enjoy urolagnia may enjoy urinating on another person or persons, or being urinated upon...

  • Urophagia
    Urophagia
    Urophagia is the consumption of urine. There are various reasons that humans may consume urine. Urine was used in several ancient cultures for various health, healing, and cosmetic purposes, practices which are still used by some people of these cultures today...


External links

, describes the neurophysiology of urination
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