Feeds

Why do you sometimes shiver when you wee?

Shiver wee timbers!

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels
How the internet of things has deep roots in the English countryside
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Honeybee boffin STINGS OWN WEDDING TACKLE... for SCIENCE
Not the worst place to be stung, says one man
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.