Feeds

Why do you sometimes shiver when you wee?

Shiver wee timbers!

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Also in this week's column:

Why do you sometimes shiver when you wee?

Asked by John Rae of Clapham, United Kingdom

Shiver wee? This is not to be confused with chivalry (the valorous qualities of a knight or gentleman) or a shivaree (a noisy mock serenade by friends of a newly wed couple).

This is a surprisingly commonly-asked Odd Body Question (OBQ), and no research has been done on this topic.

Low room temperature as covered parts of the body are exposed could be an obvious cause. More seriously, the shivering is an example of the human body's autonomic nervous system (ANS) at work.

We are not conscious of the ANS. It runs on automatic, hence its name, "autonomic", which literally means "self controlling, working independently". The urination reflex is relayed through the ANS. The reflex is directly related in strength to the amount of stretch of the bladder. Thus, the degree of shivering is generally related to how full the bladder is at the time of urination.

The ANS has two divisions. One is the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the other is the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

The SNS tends to keep the bladder relaxed and the urethral sphincter contracted. This is why one does not have an "accident" while one is concentrating on something else. It is true to say that the more "desperate" one becomes in response to a bulging bladder, the more the SNS acts to keep you dry.

The SNS response includes the release by the brain of chemicals doadrenal medulla catacholamines epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine to bring about the necessary body reactions. When the opportunity arises to allow the parasympathetic side of the ANS to take over, the change in catacholamine production probably causes of the shivering.

Laboratory experiments which have not been undertaken would prove this beyond doubt.

In any case, at the moment of urination, there is a slight blood pressure rise and a momentary flushing or euphoria shortly after relaxing the urethral sphincter. Some find this feeling pleasurable. At such moments, some people say "ah". This same response in its most extreme forms causes fainting. All of this is the ANS doing its job.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.