How Much Urine Can the Bladder Hold

A healthy adult bladder can hold up to 16 ounces, or 2 cups of urine.

We’ve all had to hold our bladder for one reason or another, but the human bladder is only designed to hold a set amount of urine, otherwise getting into the “holding habit” can be dangerous.

Normal bladder volume by age changes over time. For example, children under the age of 2 can hold about 4 ounces. For children older than 2, the capacity can be found by dividing their age by 2, then adding 6. For example, an 8-year-old child can typically hold 10 ounces of urine.


Average bladder size

Time to fill bladder up

Infant (0–12 months)

1–2 ounces

1 hour

Toddler (1–3 years)

3–5 ounces

2 hours

Child (4–12 years)

7–14 ounces

2–4 hours


16–24 ounces

8–9 hours (2 ounces per hour)

As you age, your kidneys and bladder change, which can affect their function. The elastic tissue stiffens and the bladder stretches less.

Therefore, it can’t hold as much urine as before. In women, this can be due to weakened muscles that cause the bladder or vagina to fall out of position (prolapse).

If you find you cannot hold your bladder any longer, this is known as incontinence. There are many types of incontinence and conditions that could cause incontinence.

How Often Should You Pee?

For most people, the normal number of times to urinate per day is between 6 – 7 in a 24 hour period. Between 4 and 10 times a day can also be normal if that person is healthy.

Normal urinary frequency depends on how much fluid you drink in a day and the types of fluid that you drink. It also depends on if you’re taking medication known as diuretics that can cause you to go more often. How healthy and active you are can also have an influence, and to some extent, your age.

Over two-thirds of women over 70 urinate at least once per night, and up to 60 percent go twice or more each night. It’s very common for most people to wake up once a night, and it becomes more common as you get older.

How Long Does it Take to Pee After Drinking Water?

A healthy bladder can hold about 2 cups of urine before it's considered full - it takes your body around 9 to 10 hours to produce 2 cups of urine.

Liquids typically leave your stomach quickly. For example, after you drink a glass of water, it's estimated that only 50 percent of it will be left in your stomach after 10 minutes.

How long it’ll be from drinking to peeing depends upon how well your body is hydrated. If you’re dehydrated, a glass or two of water will quench your thirst but you may not need to pee for hours after.

When you are well hydrated, the kidneys will efficiently expel urine, which may happen after drinking just one glass of water, meaning you may have to rush to pee after ten or fifteen minutes.

You can plan for about 15 minutes after drinking as a guide to access bathrooms throughout the day.

How to Measure How Much Urine You Are Passing

You may need or want to measure the amount of urine you’re passing to gage whether it’s a healthy and appropriate amount.

To measure the amount of urine you pass, you will need to:

  1. Put a container (like an ice cream container) in the toilet bowl
  2. Sit on the toilet and pass urine into the container
  3. When you have finished, measure the urine by tipping it into a measuring jug

    The Risks of Holding in Urine

    Urinary Tract Infections

    Holding your urine for too long can weaken the bladder muscles over time, which can lead to problems such as incontinence and not being able to fully empty your bladder. Additionally, holding your urine for extremely long periods of time can also cause urinary tract infections due to bacteria build-up.

    Kidney and Bladder Issues

    When we hold our urine by contracting the sphincter against an already strained bladder, the bladder wall can thicken and break down the normal one-way mechanism of urine flow from the kidneys into the bladder. This can increase the risk of infection and lead to long-term kidney and bladder issues.

    When should you head to the bathroom

    Your bladder is full of receptors that tell your brain how full your bladder is. Essentially, there's an invisible “fill line” in your bladder.

    When your urine reaches that point, your brain receives a signal that you need to pee. This actually happens when your bladder is only a quarter of the way full.

    You should go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the need to go. If you have the urge to pee and you think you’ve put at least two cups of liquid into your system, it’s definitely time to go.

    If you have the urge to go to the restroom and it has been at least three hours since your last trip, it’s also probably time to go. Don’t go just because you think you should, but really learn to listen to your body.

    If you find that you can’t make it to the bathroom in time, you might want to gage what you’re drinking and how much of it. You could be overstimulating it in other ways; caffeine, fizzy drinks, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, tomatoes and citrus can all trigger an overwhelming urge to go.

    Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Bladder

    Maintain a healthy intake of fluids

    Try to drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters (6-8 glasses) of fluid each day. When you are not drinking enough, the bladder gets used to holding smaller amounts of urine and can become sensitive.

    Keep a bladder diary

    Over the course of a few days, write down when you have to go and when your bladder loses control. Then look for connections. You may find patterns you can change easily, like that urge that always hits when you’ve drank your after-lunch coffee.

    Exercise your pelvic floor

    Working your pelvic floor can help with bladder control by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that are responsible for closing your urethra and keeping urine safely in your bladder until it’s time to go.

    Manual pelvic floor exercises are effective, but it can be difficult to know if you’re doing them correctly and results can take a while to show.

    To rebuild your pelvic floor muscles from the inside, discover INNOVO, the only at-home, non-invasive solution designed to help you regain control of your bladder in just 12 weeks.

    INNOVO’s patented pelvic floor exerciser delivers 180 perfect Kegels per session, while you sit back and relax, and let INNOVO do all the hard work.


    Approved by Dr Ruth Maher, PT, PhD, DPT

    After running a private practice in Atlanta for a few years, Dr Ruth Maher decided to open her own practice back home in Ireland and pursue my PhD at University College Dublin (UCD). She specialized in pelvic floor dysfunction while studying and working in the US and had many friends and co-workers who had stress urinary incontinence - but they said nothing about the condition. This was one of the reasons that inspired me to pursue my PhD and explore alternative solutions to effectively facilitate pelvic floor contractions that enhanced coordination and strength of the pelvic floor muscles thus addressing the root cause of urinary leakage.


    Updated on May-09-22