Will holding your pee damage your prostate?

Dear Alice,

Is it true if a guy holds his urine too long it can damage the prostate and make it harder if not impossible to have boners or be aroused?

I watch too many movies

Dear I watch too many movies, 

Holding your urine for extended periods can be uncomfortable. While it may not have a significant impact on your prostate or sexual performance specifically, it can lead to other complications such as bladder weakness, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease among other things. Read on for more information. 

Your bladder is a muscular organ that stores about 16 ounces of urine (that's four ounces more than a standard soda can), but it can stretch to hold more. However, holding your urine often may cause the bladder to become overfull, leading to bladder distention or stretching. The stretching may contribute to bladder weakness due to the strain on your bladder muscles over time, which may decrease the sensation of having to urinate. You may not feel you have to pee until your bladder is extremely full, which may cause accidents or leakages to occur more often. This is also referred to as urinary incontinence

If the bladder is consistently overfull, your ability to empty your bladder completely may also be impacted, which might make you have to pee more frequently. This can cause pain or urinary tract infections (UTIs), as bacteria can multiply in the bladder when it’s not fully emptied. 

Furthermore, holding your urine may increase the risk of kidney disease. Having certain conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, kidney stones and other kidney conditions (e.g., urinary retention or a neurogenic bladder) while also holding your urine may result in kidney problems. 

If you want more information, check out the Go Ask Alice! question How often do I need to urinate. If you're curious about any of these conditions, consider speaking with a health care provider. 

Last updated Sep 08, 2023
Originally published Jun 09, 2006