Actress Sophie Turner shows off noteworthy survival skills as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, so it’s not surprising that she’s pretty tough in real life as well: “I have a really strong bladder and only pee twice a day,” she recently told InStyle. “I’m able to hold it for hours. I don’t even think about it during the day, and then I eventually realize I should probably go.”
While it sounds impressive, Turner’s bladder skills aren’t necessarily a good thing, says New York City urologist David Kaufman, MD, of Central Park Urology. “A properly hydrated adult should be voiding every three to four hours,” he tells Yahoo Health.
But Turner says it’s not a dehydration issue; She trained herself to do it as a child. “When I was little, I used to hold it in until I wet myself,” she says. “I think I stretched my bladder so much that now I’m able to hold it for hours.”
Turner isn’t making it up: It’s actually possible to teach your bladder to make you feel the need to go less frequently, says urologist Rebecca Roedersheimer, MD, of Cincinnati’s The Urology Group. While it’s not something people should just do on a whim, she says bladder retraining is often helpful for people who urinate too much. Cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can help, too.
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Roedersheimer also says willful deferment — a.k.a. willingly waiting to go to the bathroom for social reasons — is another reason why people might go less often than usual. It’s common in professions like nursing and teaching (and acting, we suppose?) where it can be tough to find a moment to go and use the bathroom, she says.
Of course, it’s also possible to simply have a super bladder. “Some people just have larger bladders that hold more urine before the need to urinate is felt,” says Roedersheimer. (According to the National Institutes of Health, most people can hold up to two cups of urine in their bladder and typically feel the need to go when there’s less than one cup of urine in there.)
Whether someone has a super bladder or trained themselves to hold it, isn’t peeing more often better for you? Usually. Peeing regularly is good for your health because it flushes out your system and pushes out bacteria that can be in your urinary tract, says Roedersheimer.
Holding it in, on the other hand, can lead to recurrent urinary tract infections, incontinence, and the inability to fully empty your bladder. And, although rare, it can even lead to kidney damage over several years.
So, how do you know if you have a super bladder or you’re just dehydrated? First, you should make sure you’re drinking enough liquid. Strive to drink about 13 cups of liquid a day if you’re a man and nine cups of liquid a day if you’re a woman, per the Institute of Medicine. Then, look at your pee. If it’s darker than a very pale yellow, you could be dehydrated. If it’s not, you may have a super bladder.
While only having to pee twice a day is unusual, Roedersheimer says as long as someone is well hydrated, doesn’t have dark urine, and isn’t having recurrent UTIs, it’s not a medical concern.
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