We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Bladder?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Feb 08, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The human bladder can be seen as the final way station before urine is voided from the body. Its function is fairly singular, to hold urine until we can get to the bathroom. Despite its simple function, it has some unique and interesting features.

The bladder is located in the lower abdomen. In men it is directly in front of the prostate, which is why an enlarged prostate can lead to problems urinating. In women, the bladder is placed between the vagina and the uterus, which explains why a pregnant woman is often very bladder sensitive as her unborn child grows larger.

In both men and women, the bladder is connected to the kidneys by two tube-like structures called ureters. These are the essential passageways for urine to exit the kidneys and enter the bladder. Unlike the control we can exert over urine voiding from the bladder, the movement of urine into the bladder from the kidneys is internally controlled.

At the bottom of each bladder, we have what is called a urethra. This is how urine passes from our bladders to outside our bodies. In women, the urethra is relatively short, not even extending to the length of the vagina. In men, the urethra is much longer, about 8 inches (20.32 cm) and opens at the tip of the penis.

An interesting feature of the bladder is that it can expand and contract. When the bladder is empty, it’s about the size of a medium adult fist. But it can expand in adults to accommodate a little over two cups (.47 liters) of fluid. However, people often begin to feel the urge to go when they hold about one cup (.23 liters) of fluid in their bladders. Sometimes even as little as 5 ounces of urine (.14 liters) can stimulate the need to use the bathroom.

With infants, a certain amount of fluid in the bladder simply opens up the bottom muscle of the bladder, called the sphincter, allowing for urination. Older children and adults become aware of the need to void urine when a certain portion of the bladder near the ureters, called the trigone, becomes stretched. This message is translated to the brain, and people learn to recognize it as they age as a signal to head for the nearest bathroom.

If this signal is ignored, as it is in babies, the bladder will take over and do the work for you. The sphincter will open completely and void urine, once the bladder reaches a certain level of fullness. Children who sleep heavily may have trouble with bedwetting long after they can control bladder urges during the day, simply because their bodies still don’t recognize the brain’s signals when they’re asleep.

Overall, the bladder is a very useful organ. It performs the important function of secreting urine from the body, and signals our brains with the appropriate time to find a toilet. Just as we flush urine down the toilet, the bladder is nature’s way of flushing toxins, extra fluids and waste materials out of our systems.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.