Pee is your body’s way of extra rid of extra fluid, so your body doesn’t puff up with water. Your body makes pee to get rid of waste, too! So how does your body make pee? This job belongs to the urinary system – your body’s way of making urine, the scientific name for pee.
Urinary System, Urinary Tract, and Renal System: What’s the Difference?
Sometimes the urinary system is also called the renal system or the urinary tract. One organ system can have a few different names, just like people who have different nicknames!
Parts of the Urinary Tract
Let’s follow the path of pee! Along the way, we’ll meet the key players of the urinary tract team.
Your kidneys are like cleaning stations for your blood. This pair of bean-shaped organs are located in your lower back. Most people have 2 kidneys, but some people have one kidney that does all the work.
Blood flows through each kidney, kind of like how cars drive through a car wash to get rid of dirt and gunk.
Inside the kidney cleaning station are millions of tiny tubes called nephrons. These nephrons filter your blood and flush out toxins and extra fluid. But the nephrons need to keep the good stuff. While while filtering out waste, nephrons need to keep nutrients like protein and sugar in your blood.
Then, the leftover liquid becomes urine (pee), which then flows down the ureters.
Just as your sinks and toilets drain into pipes, your body has tubes called ureters that collect urine.
The right ureter connects the right kidney to the bladder, while the left ureter connects the left kidney to the bladder.
In adults, each ureter is around 8 to 10 inches long – just a little shorter than a ruler!
Then, urine drips into the bladder, which is muscular, pear-shaped organ is located at the bottom of your belly. The bladder acts like a storage container that we empty out when we pee.
Depending on how often you go to the bathroom, your urine can hang out in the bladder for a while! To make room for more urine, your bladder needs to stretch and get bigger. When you go to the bathroom, the bladder squeezes urine out of your body.
Usually, the bladder goes back to its regular size after you pee. But if you make a habit of holding your pee too long instead of letting it out, your bladder muscles can get weak and stretched out. When the bladder muscles are weak, urine can leak out—oops!
So, as the saying goes, when you gotta go, you gotta go!
Whew! Urine is just about to cross the finish line!
Urine needs to flow through one more tunnel, a tube called the urethra. The urethra’s job is to carry urine from the bladder out the body.
But not so fast!
At the end of the urethra, you have a sphincter muscle that you can control. When you are holding in your pee, the sphincter is closed. When you decide to pee, or when you just can’t hold it anymore, the sphincter opens.
How the Bladder Fills Up and Empties (Video)
Watch urine flow into the bladder. When the bladder feels full, it will squeeze urine out the urethra!
Why Do Some People Rush to Pee?
Sometimes the urge can come on fast! Have you heard of these common causes of rushing to the bathroom?
Roadblocks: When Urine Can’t Get Through the Ureters or Urethra
In some people, the ureters or urethra might not fully develop.
In other people, a kidney stone or could block the ureters.
Anytime a tube is block, a person can have pain and problems with urinating.
Learn More About Your Body
- EXPLORE: Urine Color Chart Activity For Kids: What Color Is Your Pee?
- READ: Amazing Human Body Books For Kids Of All Ages