Editor’s Note: Epic Dilemmas is The Inertia’s series examining often paralyzing, recurring conundrums in the lives of surfers and outdoor enthusiasts. Find more in the series here. Enjoy.
A lot of people will tell you they don’t pee in their wetsuit. Those people are one of two things: liars or missing out. I generally assume the former if someone tells me they don’t, but I’m not inside everyone’s wetsuits at all times, so I can’t really be sure. I am, however, reasonably glad that I’m not inside everyone’s wetsuits at all times, because the insides of wetsuits are gross places. They’re gross places because you’re all peeing in them, you liars. But despite my undying belief that everyone does indeed pee in their wetsuit, I must be open, at least, to the possibility that I could — could — be wrong.
“But Alex,” you say, furiously kegeling to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor in hopes of improving your bladder control. “Peeing in your wetsuit is gross and ruins your wetsuit!” I’m here to convince you otherwise. With science. And a little bit of conjecture.
1. Not peeing is bad for you.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that this pandemic ends at some point in the future and you go on a surf trip. Since not all places have warm air and warm water at all times, depending on the place you’re going, it might be a good idea to bring a wetsuit, even just a 2 mm. And, since you’re a smart person, you know how important it is to drink plenty of fluids (last night’s liquor doesn’t count, as much as I would like to tell you that it does) before you surf. Muscles need water and you need muscles. When muscle cells don’t get enough water they shrivel up, which results in muscle fatigue, which results in you missing waves, which is the opposite of what you want to do. So you’re hydrated, the waves are pumping, and you paddle out, only to realize that you have to pee. You, not being a person who pees in your wetsuit, decides to hold it in. Those kegels are really paying off and your pelvic floor is controlling the hell out of your bladder. You’re proud of yourself. You’re proud of your strong pelvic floor. You aren’t peeing. But guess what? Holding in your pee can lead to urinary tract or bladder infections, especially for women. Now you’re in agonizing pain with a raging infection inside of you, and since you’re on a surf trip somewhere far away from a pharmacy, you can’t get the necessary antibiotics to fix it. All because you didn’t pee in your wetsuit.
2. Warm air and cold water tell your body that it needs to pee.
Ever heard of immersion diuresis? It’s a little thing that happens to your body when you get into water that’s colder than the air temperature, which is often the case when you’re wearing a wetsuit. Your blood vessels constrict — yes, that’s called vasoconstriction, Mr. Science — and force the extra blood to your central organs, which are far more important to survival than your fingers and toes. Your body, however, interprets this as fluid overload and sends an urgent note to your kidneys to start making urine. The kidneys send a message up the ladder to your brain, which in turn gives you a nudge that you need to pee. And when your body tells you to do something, it’s generally a good idea to listen. Now you’re ignoring your brain’s important messages which are being sent for a reason. All because you didn’t pee in your wetsuit.
3. Pee doesn’t actually damage your wetsuit.
Yeah, I’ve heard it too: urine breaks down the glue that holds your wetsuit together. And that might be true… if you were to leave your wetsuit in a bucket full of piss for a few weeks, which I hope you’re not doing. But if you take a quick pee and flop around in it for a while, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s likely that a bit of water’s going to get in there and flush it out anyway, and if you’re smart, you’re a person who at least occasionally washes their suit. Like this. So now you’re holding your pee in, potentially getting a urinary tract or bladder infection, ignoring your brain’s frantic messages because you’re worried about wrecking a bit of glue. All because you didn’t pee in your wetsuit.
4. Peeing in your wetsuit feels GREAT.
When you’re cold, something warm against your skin feels fantastic. A warm sweater fresh out of the dryer on a cold morning? A warm set of sheets during a cold night? Yeah, those feel great, and I’m wagering that 99 percent of people would agree. So when you’ve been in the water for a while on one of those days filled with long lulls and you’re starting to feel the cold permeating your rubber second-skin, filling that second-skin with warm fluid is, like I said, fantastic. Sure, it’s piss. But get over it. It’s not someone ELSE’S piss, after all, and you’re depriving yourself of a seriously good time. All because you didn’t pee in your wetsuit.
If this topic really gets you going, feel free to dive into more surfing and peeing related features below:
A poem(!): The Pee on Me
Okay, now enjoy your day, and pee your wetsuit. For me.