You did what in your wetsuit?!
When nature calls during a dive, it calls with a dilemma. When you feel like peeing yourself, do you:
- Cut your incredible manta encounter short and head back to the boat (dragging your poor buddy with you) where you’ll desperately rush to remove your wetsuit in a tiny cubicle whilst doing the dance.
- Pee in your wetsuit. Easy, instant relief, and no dive spoiled.
There’s a well-worn saying among divers: there are those who pee in their wetsuit, and there are those who lie about it. We’re not 100% sure if that’s true, but there are plenty of myths and misconceptions we can clear up about making the bladder gladder underwater. Can you pee in a wetsuit without attracting sharks? And, how do you get urine smell out of a wetsuit after taking a tinkle? Read on for some truths and tips.
Drinking less fluid prevents having to pee
It’s never a good idea to dive dehydrated. Not only does dehydration increase chances of decompression sickness, the body is naturally inclined to create urine when submerged in water.
There’s a physiological effect called immersion diuresis. When you drop into water that’s colder than the ambient air temperature, vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) occurs. Extra blood is sent to the central organs, which your body interprets as a fluid overload. The body signals the kidneys to produce urine and your brain tells you it’s time to drain the main vein.
In layman’s terms: warm air + cold water = need to pee.
So, rather than trying to suppress your thirst, focus on reducing how cold you feel on the dive. Wear the right exposure suit, and consider adding gloves, a hood, or a rash vest. Oh, and leave that double espresso — caffeine’s a diuretic, so drinks like tea and coffee will make you want to urinate even more.
Here’s one more reason to ensure you drink enough water. When the body is dehydrated, urine has a stronger odor and color. So do yourself (and everyone else on the boat) a favor and stay hydrated!
Just hold it
Fighting the urge to urinate can lead to a urinary tract or bladder infection, especially for women. This extremely painful condition isn’t something you want to deal with on a dive trip – especially in a location where the antibiotics needed to alleviate the problem might not be readily available. So let it go, let it go.
Urine damages your wetsuit
Under normal circumstances, urine will not break down the seals or glue on a modern wetsuit. Divers using a wetsuit with an insular lining should take extra care to wash their suit with appropriate cleaner after soiling it (we hope you’ll do this regardless). While urine won’t damage a wetsuit, a soiled, unwashed wetsuit stinks, and can cause a skin condition similar to diaper rash (not to mention wetsuit yeast).
Here are three tips to keep your neoprene fresh and happy:
- Rinse it thoroughly in fresh, warm water after every dive
- From time to time (or if it’s particularly pungent) give it a good wash with wetsuit cleaner and a soft sponge (never use a washing machine!)
- Don’t stuff it away in a bag after use; hang it properly to air, dry, and store
Peeing yourself helps keep warm
Pee proponents often describe how peeing yourself can make a cold dive much warmer. Unfortunately, the effects are temporary and counter-productive.
Warm urine fools your body into thinking it’s no longer in a cold environment. So when cold, fresh water enters your suit, your body isn’t prepared. Now you’re worse off than before and your body must expend extra energy warming up that cold water. If fresh water isn’t being introduced, either because your suit has great seals, or you haven’t “flushed”, that means you’re soaking in your own urine. That’s gross. There are much better ways to keep warm while diving.
Sharks are attracted to urine
Does peeing in your wetsuit attract sharks? No. This myth has been debunked by several scientists who say it’s OK to pee in the ocean. So, go ahead and relieve yourself with full peace of mind.
Peeing in a wetsuit – the right way
Now that we’ve covered some myths and misconceptions, let’s talk about some urination etiquette.
Don’t wait until you’re walking across the beach or boat deck and get a whiff of something stanky. Take a moment to properly flush your wetsuit straight after peeing yourself. Below are two techniques, consider using both for maximum effectiveness.
- Grasp the chest of your wetsuit and pull it away from your body a few times.
- Open the wrist, feet and neck seals on your suit.
IMPORTANT: Ensure you have good buoyancy control before flushing.
How to pee in a wetsuit like a pro
- Take care of business at the beginning of a dive rather than waiting until the end. This creates a greater opportunity for urine to wash out.
- Avoid foods that make urine extra-odiferous such as: asparagus, brussels sprouts, garlic and salmon.
- Keep a polite distance from others when doing the deed. It’s a telling sign when a diver stops, adopts a strange pose, and stares with an expression somewhere between awkwardness and relief.
- Don’t pee in a rental wetsuit. Consider the human who has to clean it.
- Don’t go peeing yourself in a new wetsuit either. You might need to return it if something doesn’t fit or you find a fault. If the store assistant smells the evidence, you’ll be stuck with your purchase — or worse, another unsuspecting diver could end up with it instead.
- If your wetsuit has seen a few too many bathroom breaks, visit a PADI Dive Shop to purchase wetsuit cleaner, or treat yourself to a brand-new wetsuit. Most wetsuits only last three to five years and many divers hang on to old dive gear for too long.