There is very important ongoing research to track frequency of urination before, during, and after various methods of prostate cancer treatment. These studies can be potentially valuable to newly diagnosed men who seek accurate comparisons of possible side effects of the treatment options available to them. As a prostate cancer survivor treated with proton beam therapy, I regularly complete questionnaires asking me, among other things, about my frequency.
We all want valid studies that reflect the truth, and I am happy to provide the most accurate answers I can, but there is a problem: There is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a single pee. What might be considered two pees for one person might be only counted as one for another simply because of lack of a standard.
The Critical Gap
The time between pees is the primary issue … a small gap might reasonably be viewed by some as nothing more than a very brief intermission …
The time between pees is the primary issue and point of contention. If I were to pee at 2:00 and again at 3:00, no one would disagree that the gap of an hour is long enough to regard those as two separate events. What about 2:00 and 2:30, or 2:00 and 2:15? That’s still enough of a gap to have nearly 100% agreement. But as the gap narrows, the issue becomes stickier. What about 2:00 and 2:05, 2:03, or 2:01? Such a small gap might reasonably be viewed by some as nothing more than a very brief intermission during a single event. Others might make a plausible argument that if the stream stops even for a few seconds, a new event has begun.
Who is right? Exactly how much time should be regarded as a sufficient gap to move the pee meter up one? Before addressing that, I would suggest that while the gap length is clearly critical, it cannot be the only consideration.
Trumping the Gap
These additional factors must be part of the one-pee/two-pee determination:
- If there are fifteen or fewer distinct dribbles no more than two seconds apart during the gap then a new event has not begun.
- If you look away from the action in the belief that you are finished, then you are finished, and any follow-up activity must be counted as new, regardless of even a small preceding gap.
- If the music stops, the show is over. To be considered a single pee, there must be continuous sound (including harmonic overtones). If any amount of total silence intervenes, what follows is a new pee.
- Any artificial and obvious attempt to connect one pee to the next merely to avoid having to count them as separate events is intentionally fraudulent. This includes but is not limited to shaking, squeezing, wringing, purposefully modulating the flow, or holding your left hand under running cold water to stimulate additional flow during the would-be gap. In the face of such blatant manipulation, the illegitimate single event must always be regarded as two.
If any of the above conditions apply, then the pee gap is trumped. But in the absence of these higher priority conditions, the gap must be the determining factor along with one unavoidable modifier: age.
Calculating Your Pee Handicap
… the speed at which the sphincter muscle functions declines, so this must be factored into the equation for a fair and equitable pee gap, not unlike a golf handicap.
As we grow older, the speed at which the sphincter muscle functions declines, so this must be factored into the equation for a fair and equitable pee gap, not unlike a golf handicap. Using age 50 as a baseline, the maximum gap to count one pee rather than two is five seconds, the amount of time an average 50-year-old man requires to wrap things up. However, that time increases as we age by approximately a half second per year, and this must be built into the calculation. The gap formula for men aged 50 and older is therefore this:
A 70-year-old man would be allowed a gap of 15 seconds before a second pee begins: 5+.5(70-50)=15. A 100-year-old man is entitled to a full 30 seconds to finish the job, if needed. Those younger than 50 are subject to the same 5-second limit as a 50-year-old, and should have no problem with that restriction.
Hopefully the above guidelines will help standardize the measurement techniques used in studies attempting to identify the extent to which frequency of urination is affected by various forms of treatment for prostate cancer.
Let me know how you personally determine whether you’ve had two pees, or just one. Email me directly here. Thanks!