Piss and Brain Damage
October 18, 2007
By Dan Savage
How much piss can one consume without getting sick?
I usually float medical questions over to Dr. Barak Gaster, Savage Love's long-suffering resident medical expert. But after braving a torrent of piss questions over the years, Dr. Gaster has developed something of a piss-question phobia. So, S C, I tossed your question to Dr. W. H., an ER physician at a big city hospital like the ones on teevee! Dr. W. H. has seen people "guzzling every nasty-ass secretion known," and wasn't fazed by your question. (He also says that he's seen people use Doritos bags as condoms, but we'll save that for another column.)
"Piss is actually quite safe to drink," says Dr. W. H., "assuming the person making the piss has healthy kidneys and isn't dripping with the clap." But isn't piss a waste product, packed with stuff your body wants to be rid of? "The production of urine begins with an ultrafiltration of the blood by the nephrons in the kidney, which contain superteeny openings that let only the smallest molecules through. This means that bacteria and viruses are rarely seen [in urine]—HIV and hepatitis viruses are pretty much a nonissue as long as the kidneys are in good working order."
But quite safe doesn't mean totally safe.
"All bets are off if you're drinking the piss of someone who's got horrendous kidneys," Dr. W. H. adds. "The biggest danger would be drinking urine from someone with an infection that's living downstream from the kidneys, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or some type of bladder infection."
Presuming you're drinking a healthy person's piss, how much is too much? "There have been cases of people dying because they drank gallons and gallons of water incredibly quickly and diluted their electrolytes to the point of cardiac arrest," says Dr. W. H. "However, that's sort of a risk that's inherent in any liquid, and not really unique to urine."
Another thing for piss guzzlers to consider: "Certain small molecules are concentrated in the urine," says Dr. W. H. "Such as [trace amounts of] drugs, recreational and otherwise." I've heard from clean-and-sober piss drinkers who lost their jobs after testing positive for drugs their sex partners were taking, SC, so if you have a job that requires regular drug testing, or if you're Britney Spears, you might want to date straight-edge piss tops exclusively.
"If you know your partner and you're both healthy," Dr. W. H. concluded, "guzzle all the piss you want. If you're hooking up with strangers and you're not sure what's coming out of his dick or her twat, then you're asking for it."
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