The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: Piss! Can it hurt you? Can it help you? Will you lose your job if your boss examines it? Unzip and continue…
Myth #1: You Can’t Drink Piss
Yes you can! In Australia, it’s often used as a slang term for beer, so drinking piss is a great idea. Also, if you want to, you can just drink piss. Like, get some piss and put it in your mouth. Bear Grylls does it all the time, to the extent that he has inspired a generation of young urophagists, telling an audience at a literary festival, “I get a lot of letters from mums and dads saying, ‘My 10-year-old has started drinking his own pee.’ Sorry about that!” — and he’s pretty healthy.
Generally, though, the only good reason to drink urine is that you want to drink urine. Survival experts generally advise against it, even in dire circumstances, because it can worsen the effects of dehydration, due to being about two percent salt. Aron Ralston of 127 Hours fame drank urine while trapped, and might in doing so have made his situation worse (Ralston now does motivational speeches which include the passage, “Whenever I feel like complaining, I ask myself, ‘Did I have to drink my own urine today?’”)
So, drinking it in an emergency isn’t a great idea. What about for health reasons? Urine therapy, in which piddle is either drunk or rubbed into the skin or gums, isn’t currently recognized by any medical body as being effective, despite claims it can sort everything from AIDS to snake bites. In fact, due to being less sterile than it’s often rumored to be, one common side effect of drinking urine is diarrhea, a real “rethink your decisions” combination.
But, in small doses, now and then, if you really, really want to drink pee, drink pee. Nobody’s stopping you.
Myth #2: Your Piss Reveals Everything About Your Drug Habit
Did you hear about the broke urologist? He didn’t have a pot to piss in. If you’re being asked to piss in a pot to check that you’re not a drug-filled loose cannon, but secretly you are exactly that, how much trouble are you likely to be in? What if you just went a bit nuts the other week at your extremely sketchy friend Gary’s house? According to the FDA, a urine test can only reveal certain drugs for a limited amount of time: Heroin, cocaine and meth are all likely to be out of your system in three days; MDMA in four; and weed in a week. So, ss long as the test isn’t sprung on you right after Gary’s birthday, you’re, um, golden.
Urine can get you high, though: The hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom was extremely popular with the indigenous Koryak people of Siberia, but was hard to come by. When a shaman got hold of it, they’d then find their piss in high demand, as most of the enjoyable properties of the mushroom were still present. Just not the, uh, “not piss” element.
Nope! If you’ve been stung by a jellyfish, do not insist the nearest lifeguard makes tinkle on you. Cells called cnidocytes on the jellyfish’s skin contain organelles called nematocysts, which in turn, contain venom. Some of these are likely to stick to you when you get stung, and suddenly bringing fresh water (extremely fresh water) into the situation is likely to aggravate them, causing more venom to be released. Rinsing with salt water is much more likely to be beneficial, plus it won’t involve a lifeguard going to prison.
Lie #4: You Should Run to the Bathroom If You Wake Up Needing to Piss
Not necessarily — you might end up unconscious. There’s a condition, micturition syncope, that means sometimes, when doing a big ol’ piss, you just pass out. It’s slightly shrouded in mystery, but it’s thought to be caused by blood pressure briefly plummeting following a big wet release. It can be both an ongoing condition and a one-off occurrence.
“I started weeing, and then my vision went all spotty, and I just sort of crumpled,” says Dan, who had a one-off incident a few years ago. “I fell forward into the sink and kind of slithered down it. The last thing I thought before completely losing consciousness was, ‘Oh, guess I’m dying then, I wish my dick wasn’t out.’ I went to the doctor and was pretty much told it was just a thing that had happened, and it might not happen again, and if it does, just try not to hit your head.”
People suffering from it are advised to avoid alcohol, make sure they pee before bed and take their time when getting up to urinate. Also, pissing sitting down lessens the chances of falling and injuring yourself.
Micturition syncope isn’t the only pee-related condition that has a lot of question marks surrounding it. There has also been some research into “piss shiver,” but it’s all quite speculative. And nobody seems to have even begun investigating “bonus piss,” i.e., the extra pint of pee that shows up if you’ve been having a really long shit.
Lie #5: You Should Always Lift the Seat Before Pissing
Obviously pissing on the seat and then leaving it there isn’t nice. If the next person who comes along and uses the toilet sits, you’re subjecting them to the unpleasant condition called “piss ass.” But is the standard way of peeing — lift the lid, lift the seat, stand and blast — really the best way?
Even if the seat is up, there’s still piss flying everywhere (naturally, we’ve covered this topic before in some detail). According to an unsourced stat mentioned in the greatest answer ever given on Quora, even a well-aimed stream sends droplets of splashback everywhere, with as much as 7,550 drips of pee coming off a big, loud piss into the back of the bowl. “A male of average height urinating into a traditional toilet while standing will launch small droplets out of the toilet and onto the floor, cupboards and shower curtain,” Tadd Truscott, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University, confirmed to Priceonomics.
There’s also the risk the seat might fall down and destroy your penis. Between 2002 and 2012, there were 13,175 ER visits in the U.S. to do with falling toilet seats: 68 percent of these were “crush injuries.” Admittedly, the vast majority of these were to young boys, and caused minimal physical damage — only five out of that whole lot involved adult penises, but still, five fully-grown penises crushed by falling seats is five too many.
Installing splashback-free urinals in home bathrooms would solve a lot of problems, but the most practical solution simply involves sitting down. A 2014 study suggests it’s beneficial for men with prostate issues, since the preferential abdominal position means it’s easier for some men to squeeze out every drop. There have even been health campaigns in Japan, Taiwan and Sweden encouraging men to take a butt while pissing.
Think of it this way: If everyone sits, nobody gets piss ass.