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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of your urinary system

Tirohanga whānui ki tō pūnaha mimi

urinary system showing kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethraYour urinary system includes two kidneys that remove waste products from your body and control the amount of water in your blood. The waste products and excess water form wee (urine).

Each kidney drains the wee into your bladder through a thin tube called the ureter.

Your bladder is a muscular storage sac-like organ that sits in your pelvis. It stores the wee until you're ready to empty it by going to the toilet. Your bladder gets bigger as it fills with wee. Your brain sends messages to your bladder telling it when to hold and when to empty the wee.

When you go to the toilet, your bladder muscles (called urethral sphincters) and your pelvic floor muscles relax. This allows your bladder to squeeze the wee out. The wee leaves your bladder through a thin tube called the urethra.

Your urethra and bladder make up your lower urinary tract. Your ureters and kidneys make up your upper urinary tract.

Symptoms of urinary system problems

Symptoms can include:

In men, symptoms can also include:

Diagnosing urinary system problems

To diagnose urinary system problems, your general practice team will examine you and ask you questions about your general health. They may arrange tests including:

They may also ask you to complete a bladder diary to see how often you go to the toilet and how much you drink.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2023.


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Review key: HIURS-53047