Running water as stimulant to peeing

Part of your neurologic pathway

Dear Matt: Ever since childhood. I’ve been taught to turn on the water faucet when having difficulty beginning urination. It always works, but nobody can tell me why. You're my last hope. Matt. — Ryan Snider, El Paso

Once again, the final refuge of the clueless and desperate. Well, Ryan, peeing, like every other voluntary thing we do, has to be “learned.” We have to set up a little bioelectric pathway in our brains to corral all the muscle functions involved and turn the art of urinating into a large ceramic receptacle a smoothly coordinated, sophisticated example of human superiority over other animals. Somewhere, early on in your development, someone helpfully added the instruction “turn on water faucet,” it became part of your neurologic pathway, and now it seems to work as if by magic, though it probably took a while to work at first, while you were building up the association between running water and urination. (I do hope this reflex is selective enough that you can actually wash your hands without peeing.) They might just as well have suggested that when in distress you whistle or hum or stand on one foot. The sound of running water, though, probably heightens the suggestion, one reason that all park fountains should be located near public bathrooms.

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