It’s a strange phenomenon that some people may have noticed and pondered on. Sometimes, when one urinates, they shiver. So, why is it that some people shiver when they pee? According to experts, there may be a couple of reasons for this.
As Live Science points out, shivering when urinating is a phenomenon that can occur from birth, with many mothers being able to identify that their child has just urinated thanks to the shiver they emit. The “pee shiver” can then carry on as the child grows and even into adulthood. However, it seems to be a very strange bodily response to urination.
While there is no hard evidence or solid studies that delve into this phenomenon, experts do have some theories as to why some people may shiver when they urinate. Scientists do know that the bladder and nervous system are linked, so this can go some way into explaining the pee shiver.
The first explanation is that the shiver is in response to a drop in body temperature. Scientists believe that as urine leaves the body, a slight drop in body temperature may occur, causing one’s body to shiver in response in an effort to warm the body back up.
There is also the belief that the shiver response may occur as a result of one removing items of clothing in order to urinate, thus causing a drop in body temperature. However, some scientists refute this claim. And, for babies who don’t need their garments to be taken off before urination, this doesn’t really explain the pee shiver as a result of clothing removal.
According to Live Science, Dr. Simon Fulford, a consultant urologist at the James Cook University Hospital in the United Kingdom, has another theory he prefers when it comes to the pee shiver. This theory is more in-depth and involves the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
Along with many other bodily functions, urination is also controlled by the ANS. Things such as temperature and heartbeat are also controlled by this system. Along with the ANS, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) are also involved in bladder control.
When the bladder starts to fill and expand, all of these systems are involved with the decision-making process. Along with these systems, a set of nerves in the spinal cord called the sacral nerves are involved and send messages to the PNS in relation to the fullness of the bladder. All of these actions help control the bladder so that early evacuation doesn’t occur.
However, once a person does decide to urinate, scientists have discovered fairly strong evidence that their blood pressure also drops slightly. This, in turn, appears to spur “a reaction from the sympathetic nervous system, a part of the ANS that is involved in the body’s fight-or-flight response.” The SNS is known to detect low blood pressure and release a series of neurotransmitters called catecholamines in an effort to try and restore the body’s normal blood pressure range. Therefore, this may, in effect, account for the sudden pee shiver that some people emit when urinating.
This second explanation could also account for the fact that more men than women experience the pee shiver. Since men usually stand when urinating, it is expected they could experience a bigger dip in their blood pressure, causing a more lively response from their nervous system.
However, for those who are worried about the pee shiver, there is no need for concern according to Dr. Grant Stewart, an academic urological surgeon at Cambridge University in England and chair of The Urology Foundation’s Science and Education Committee in the United Kingdom.
“There’s not been any substantial research on this subject, but it’s a normal bodily function and nothing to worry about,” he told Live Science.