That sudden jolt up your spine mid-pee is a real thing, but what is it?
“Pee shivers” is a thing, and is a (mostly) male phenomenon that occurs either during or right around the tail end of the piss, especially when standing. A cold jolt rips through the body in the form of an involuntary twitch, leaving its victim chilled and perplexed. The odd phenomenon has been covered by most everyone online from BuzzFeed to NBC to Mental Floss … years ago. Cracked even reports that over 80 percent of males claim to have experienced the pee shivers. It’s old news. But, still, no one gets it.
Since reportedly this is inherently a boy’s club topic of conversation, our lady writers of the brood aren't necessarily offended that no one has clued them in on the pee shivers until now, but they are left a bit curious and mostly confused. Why don’t girls get pee shivers? Are there poop shivers?
Apparently no one gives a shit enough about the pee shivers thing to actually figure out what causes it. There is no designated field of medicine dedicated to unearthing the mystery that is the pee shiver, no volunteer organization with a fancy acronym that is raising awareness and petitioning for pee shivers research, no colored ribbon that people wear to promote pee shiver sensitivity. There isn’t even really a politically correct term for the pee shivers. “Urine shivers” just sounds stupid.
There is a thing called Micturition Syncope, which is when someone faints shortly after or during urination, but that seems a tad more dramatic than a mere shiver. The frightening syndrome is caused when there's a drop in blood pressure because of something having to do with vagnus nerve stimulation and blah blah blah. The Wiki page recommends not peeing while you’re sleepy to avoid this rare and unusual condition.
But pee shivers aren’t rare, however unusual. And people have their theories. When you pee, your body temperature drops. Plus your poor, sensitive male genitals are exposed and you get cold, so you shiver. Man, evolution sure dealt boys a weird hand with that whole balls-outside-their-body thing.
The most popular explanation of the pee shivers blames the autonomic nervous system, which has been proven guilty for causing other bizarre, uncontrollable behaviors such as closing your eyes when you sneeze. And your blood pressure is higher while you’re standing versus sitting, so that could have something to do with why mostly men get this infamous twitch.
So why don’t you shiver when you puke? Or when you’re giving blood? That’s a lot of hot liquid leaving the body too. What gives?
Even the pros are stumped. "No one knows for certain what the specific trigger for the shivering is," says Dr. Anish Sheth, former director of the gastrointestinal motility program at Yale Medical School and author of "What's My Pee Telling Me?"
One expert, named Dr. John Cassone, has a relatively boring theory, but it basically reiterates what was summarized previously:
1. The body enters parasympathetic nervous system regulation to initiate pee pee mode. (yeah, he calls it “pee pee mode”)
2. A drop in ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) from the pituitary and a drop in aldosterone from the adrenal glands allow for voiding of the extra amount of urine accumulated all night.
3. The hormone switch combined with the rapid loss of a large amount of fluid cause two phenomena:
– a drop in body temperature (urine is 98.7 degrees)
– a drop in blood pressure
4. The last point causes a switch (midway to end of pee) to sympathetic nervous system mode (fight or flight).
5. To regain blood pressure, nor-epinephrine is released from the adrenal glands to vaso-constrict the blood vessels and an involuntary shiver occurs to jump start heat generation internally.
The most concrete answer that we found while doing some hardcore Internetting about pee shivers — aside from Cassone's theory — was this: The Pee Shivers were a punk rock band formed in the Philly suburbs in 1994. We think the bottom line is: The world may never know. Not the doctors, not us. It remains a great mystery. Happy urinating.