- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Pee Shiver: Reasons why You Shiver When You Pee
Reasons for pee shiver
Reasons behind pee shiver
I’m going to paint for you a scenario, and please tell if you’ve heard or experienced it before. You wake up in the middle of the night to go and pee in the washroom. As you lift the toilet seat’s cover and take your tool out of your pants, you feel a sense of relaxation because some waste fluid that has been stored in your system for so long is about to be expelled.
You start peeing as normal, although, getting to the middle or end of it; you feel a quick shiver down your spine – perhaps, through your whole body. Have you heard of or experienced this before? Well, I have and it’s known as "pee shiver" or, more technically, post micturition convulsion syndrome. It happens mostly in men and rarely in women. In this post, I’ll try to uncover why we experience this funny sensation while peeing.
Reasons behind the pee shiver syndrome
Drop in temperature
One of the proposed explanations for pee shiver is that it’s a reflex to a drop in temperature. A reflex refers to any action that is performed as a response to stimulus, and without any conscious thought. Therefore, in this context, the stimulus is a drop in temperature either within or around us, and the reflex is the shiver we experience in the middle, or getting to the end, of urination.
When we are peeing, a part of our body (the penis) is exposed while the rest of the body is probably covered in clothes that kept it warm during the night. Therefore there is a drop in body temperature. This temperature-drop is enhanced when you consider the fact that peeing involves the expulsion of warm waste liquid from the body. The body responds to this sudden change in temperature by shivering, just like you shiver when you enter a cold shower.
While the drop-in-body temperature explanation is convincing, many have had cause to doubt it, and for the right reasons. Thus, if the body responds to a sudden drop in temperature, from the expulsion of warm bodily fluids, by shivering, why don’t we shiver when we vomit or donate blood to the blood bank? Furthermore, why is it that more men, and relatively fewer women, experience pee shiver? Could it be condition of the sexes? Perhaps, we will have to do more research on this.
Temporary glitch in the switch between conscious and unconscious
Another proposed explanation for pee shiver is that there could be a temporary glitch in the switch over between the conscious and unconscious parts of the brain. We humans have been programmed such that there are certain things we do without express permission from ourselves; indeed, it’s our bodies’ own way of protecting itself under certain circumstances. Actually, it’s this quality of our body that’s responsible for sneezing or closing your eyes when you sneeze.
Let’s take the example of continence, as it is more appropriate for our context. The reason why you are able to go about your normal duties in public without having to constantly remind yourself to not pee in your pants is that you unconsciously keep your bladder relaxed while keeping the various valves, through which urine is expelled, tensed. This is great because if it weren’t the case, society wouldn’t progress, as the Wright brothers, instead of building the air plane, would have focused on not peeing in their pants.
Back to the subject, when we actually go to the bathroom to pee, we voluntarily relax the valves and tense the bladder so that urine can flow. In doing this, we switch from the unconscious part of the brain to the conscious part, where we are actually aware of what is going on. Moreover, during this switch, the brain puts out chemicals like dopamine and epinephrine, which it was using while we were unconsciously relaxing the bladder and tensing the urine valves. It is the putting out of those chemicals that elicits our bodies’ shivering response. This explanation is more believable than its counterpart, the one I expounded on in the beginning.
Another explanation that has been advanced for pee shiver is a nervous reaction by our bodies during urination. This theory is similar to the one advanced in the previous paragraph because they both involve the nervous system. However, the two are different in terms of their causes. Prior to urination, our nervous system lowers our blood pressure so that urine can flow easily. In doing this, our bodies react as if they are in a fight or flight situation; much like how you shiver when you see a lion approaching from within the bush.
Pee shiver is a normal condition and most men can attest to have experienced the situation on a countless number of times. So if you have experienced pee shiver and you are being disturbed by the condition, then I hope that the above explanations on the reasons why you shiver when you pee would help alleviate any fears.