Do people urinate more during the cold months?
This is not exactly the most-studied question in medicine, but yes, patients often do report a greater sense of urinary urgency in the winter, doctors say.
"In the olden days, we would have pooh-poohed this question. Now, we're paying attention and trying to see what causes it," says Dr. Pablo Gomery, a urologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Cold air seems to trigger an increased sense of urgency, he says, though this does not necessarily translate into incontinence.
A 2005 study by researchers at Whittington Hospital in London, did assess both urgency and incontinence in nearly 2,000 men and women.
They found that certain conditions, particularly fatigue and worry, were associated with the highest risk of urgency and incontinence.
Running water and cold weather were next most likely to do so, followed by waking, rising and "latchkey" situations, in which one suddenly feels the need to use the bathroom when putting the key in the front door.
Animal studies suggest that cold weather "can induce bladder muscle overactivity," says Dr. Michael O'Leary, a senior urologic surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
And the hallmark of an overactive bladder - as those TV ads make clear - is a sense of urgency. This is in contrast to the other main type of incontinence, "stress incontinence," which is triggered by an increase in intra-abdominal pressure such as from coughing, sneezing, or jumping.
People may also make more urine in the winter as in the summer because in warm weather, the body gets rid of more fluid by sweating.
E-mail health questions to email@example.com.