Some people (actually, most people) don't like talking about pee, which is weird since it's something literally everyone does, literally every day, and not just once a day (at least I hope you do, because if you're not, that's definitely worth looking into). However, there's a lot we might not know about our urine, and not only is it cool to know all this information, the information you will learn today might just end up saving your life one day. If you want to know more about your pee, urine luck.
I'll go to my shame corner now.
Believe it or not, over the course of our day, we're peeing something like a liter and a half of fluid a day. That seems like a lot, but it's exactly why we should be staying hydrated and taking care of ourselves: all of that fluid leaving our bodies is taking toxins out of our bodies, and the more we take care of ourselves, the more our bodies can do their thing and keep us healthy. Part of what makes us healthy is the duration, amount, and color we pee.
Speaking of color, it can tell us quite a lot, notably when it comes to our pee. You wouldn't believe it, but you can pee nearly every color in the rainbow, including blue and pink. Here's a very basic rundown of what you can learn from the color of your pee.
Clear: You are beyond hydrated. You might even be drinking too much water.
Pale yellow: Congratulations! You are drinking the right amount of water for you, and your bladder is thankful. Make sure you keep up the good work!
Dark yellow: Depending on the concentration of the color, you might not be drinking enough water. Make sure you do that, so your body can, y'know, keep you alive.
Orange: Go to the doctor, especially if this is accompanied with yellowing of the skin or the eyes, because that means liver issues. Some chemotherapy drugs also turn your pee orange. If it's none of those things, literally drop what you're doing and drink water, because you're severely dehydrated.
Brown: This means there's old blood in your urine. It's either that or you've got a pretty serious liver infection. Some drugs can do this, too, and so can fava beans.
Pink: Pink might not be all that serious. It could be a side effect of Rifampin to treat tuberculosis, or phenazopyridine for urinary tract discomfort, or you're taking laxatives containing something called senna. If you're not taking any of those, you're probably eating a lot of beets, blackberries or rhubarb. If you're not doing any of these things, stop reading this list right now and go to the doctor.
Red: Red is actually pretty serious. It means you've got blood in your urine, which is indicative of a lot of very serious things, including cancer. Unless you eat a ton of beets or red food coloring, drop everything and go to the doctor.
Blue/green: Food dyes cause this, mostly. Some drugs can too. Also, UTIs can cause green urine, but you'll probably notice the pain before you notice your pee turning green, so there's that.
Now that we know what different colors mean, we've also got to think about the consistency of our pee. If your pee is cloudy or murky, you've probably got a UTI or a kidney stone, which is a very good time to go to the doctor. Both of those things are pretty darn painful and should be dealt with accordingly. Also, if it's frothy looking, no matter what color it is, get yourself to a doctor, because that could mean kidney issues, or that there's protein in your urine.
Additionally, if your pee smells a certain way, that also means something. Asparagus makes your pee smell bad, and diabetes makes your pee smell sweet. Lots of different food, like coffee or tuna can also alter the smell of your pee. That's all normal, so you don't have to necessarily worry about that, but it's just a good thing to know. What isn't normal is if it burns or it's uncomfortable when you pee. That's basically your body telling you that something is wrong and it could mean lots of things, but mostly it means that you should get to your doctor so they can figure it out.
It's weird to think about a time where peeing out in public wasn't an illegal thing to do, but the ancient Romans were all about it. There used to be pots available in front of every storefront in Rome for exactly that purpose, and it wasn't uncommon for people to whip it out and urinate in public, in the middle of full blown conversations. Basically, whenever someone does that in public today for whatever reason, they're partaking in a Roman tradition that goes back centuries.
Furthermore, according to a book appropriately called Gee Whiz, Roman women drank turpentine to make their pee smell like roses. The downside to that is that turpentine could not be more poisonous, and I don't know why you'd want your pee to smell like roses anyway. Who would be smelling it?
We pee, on average, something like six to eight times a day. This depends on a few things, like if you drink caffeine or alcohol, but the average is six to eight times a day. If you're going a lot more than that, that could mean something, like an enlarged prostate or diabetes. This should go without saying, but if you're pregnant, chances are you're going to be peeing a lot more than average.
It could also mean you have something called Interstitial Cystitis, which is a problem with the walls of your bladder, but that would hurt a lot. So would a UTI. If none of that is the case, you might have an overactive bladder, especially if you suddenly have to go and you can't get to a bathroom in time, and if you're getting on in years.
Now that we're done diagnosing your illnesses based on the color of your pee, we can talk about what it's made of and the science behind it. First off, it's mostly made of water, but its pH tends to skew a little more acidic. On top of that, it's also made of dissolved solids, inorganic salts, proteins, and hormones. It's also made of a substance called urea, which is made of nitrogen. The nitrogen is important for later, so make sure to remember that bit.
Despite every myth in the book, pee actually isn't sterile. A 2013 study got deeper into it: the abstract had a lot to say on the subject:
"Our previous study showed that bacterial genomes can be identified using 16S rRNA sequencing in urine specimens of both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients who are culture negative according to standard urine culture protocols. In the present study, we used a modified culture protocol that included plating larger volumes of urine, incubation under varied atmospheric conditions, and prolonged incubation times to demonstrate that many of the organisms identified in urine by 16S rRNA gene sequencing are, in fact, cultivable using an expanded quantitative urine culture (EQUC) protocol."
In laymen's terms, this means that there can actually be bacteria in pee. That's important to know if against all odds, you're stranded somewhere without water. If you've got a kidney infection and you get the bright idea to drink your pee, that would be a very, very bad idea in this case, since you're just recirculating that bacteria back through your body.
You can make gunpowder with your own pee, but take note: there's a major time investment and it's actually kind of gross. First, you've got to get your hands on a barrel of manure, and then you have to pee into it for ten months. After that, you have to drain it into pans and let the mixture dry. Then you have to grind it up with a mortar and pestle, which sounds a lot more gross than anything else. Then you add pre-ground charcoal and pre-ground sulfur to your batch of potassium nitrate, and voila! You've got yourself some grade A charcoal! I hope it was worth it.
Plants crave nitrogen, which we pee into our toilets six to eight times a day. Why should we keep doing that if we've got a garden that can use it? All you'd have to do is fill a jar with your own pee and mix one part of that with eight parts water in a different container. After that, just spread it onto your soil once every two weeks. You can't do it any more than that, though, because too much nitrogen can actually burn plants. You also shouldn't use it on your root vegetables, since they'll soak up your pee along with all that nitrogen, and that's no fun.
Also, a bit of personal advice: keep your jars of pee out of sight. The last thing you need is your friends and family thinking you're some sort of crazy person.
This is not something I recommend at all, since this involves aged pee. However, if you've got the stomach for it, you can actually whiten your teeth with your pee. Some people who are far braver than I swear by this, but since this involves the dark, smelly sort of pee, this might not necessarily be up your alley. If you actually do this, I want to know how it went, by the way.
Following up on the number six entry, it's been alleged that lots of celebrities have been known to drink their pee (we know, it's a little disgusting). Here are just a few celebrities who have been known to drink their pee:
Jim Morrison, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Boy George, J.D. Salinger, Kesha and Bear Grylls (he also drank Michelle Rodriguez's pee, too!)
Depending on how you feel about pee drinking, this is either cool or really horrifying.
The name for what happens when you pee a little when you sneeze, laugh or exercise is called stress urinary incontinence. Women get it a lot more than men, especially if they're older and have given birth before. Men usually don't get it unless they've had their prostates removed. Dr. Benjamin Brucker, a urologist, had this to say on the subject:
“Kegel exercises are a good place to start for people that are having issues with small amounts of leakage. Some people benefit from more involved physical therapy and others require surgeries to fix this problem. Using the toilet before exercising can help reduce the amount of leakage as well.”
Kegels are good for things other than this, too, so it's beneficial to do them regardless of whether this happens to you or not.
Your bladder can hold something like 300 to 500 milliliters of pee. That's something like seven to eleven shot glasses. That's actually the average amount bladders can hold, regardless of what your height is. Your height actually doesn't have much to do with how much your bladder holds. Also, holding it in isn't necessarily bad for you, but going more often is probably healthier since keeping "the stream" moving is better for you overall.
Additionally, if you're peeing less than 400 mL (that's about nine shot glasses), you're not drinking enough water, or something else is going on medically. That condition is called oliguria.
I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct guys about this. It's almost scary how many people don't know that women pee out of their urethras, not their v*ginas. It's actually a popular search on Google! If you have a p*nis, you're peeing from the same hole, but uterus-havers have two holes, which is an important distinction. The v*gina is the hole where women menstruate from, and the urethra is the one women pee from.
So even if people know that there are two holes from which women do their business, the words people used don't necessarily indicate that. Honestly, speaking as a woman, as long as you're not calling it a gash and you're speaking about any and all of those parts with respect, you can call it what you want as long as you're properly informed.
Here's something that will probably haunt my dreams all summer. Apparently, it's not the chlorine that makes your eyes red in pools. Evidently, it's a reaction caused by chloramine, which is the result of human urine and chlorine chemically combining. The super strong chlorine smell you get at a public pool is a result of people peeing in the pool. The stronger that smell is, the dirtier that pool is.
That is a lot more horrifying than I thought it would be, learning that. My only comfort is that you all have to know that, too.