Savage Love


As a microbiologist, I feel compelled to inform you that you made a somewhat fallacious statement in a recent column. You said that even stinky piss is sterile and can't make you sick. You are wrong on two counts. First, "stinky piss" can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection, meaning that the piss would have bacteria in it, rendering it unsterile. I concede that a UTI is not the only cause of stinky piss, but it is a major one. Second, urine is sterile--until it leaves your body. As it leaves your urethra, it picks up some bacteria that live on your skin, called normal flora. Now, these little guys are fine hanging out on your skin, but if they were to somehow get into your eyes, mouth, or abrasions on your knees from carpet burn, they could cause a nasty infection. So, my advice to those who love golden showers is to make the showerer clean his/her hoo-hoo with an antiseptic wipe, akin to the kind you use at the doctor's office before you pee in the cup.

Miss Information


My apologies to all the folks out there who took up piss drinking after reading my column. Never again will I pop off about a medical issue without first checking in with Dr. Barak Gaster, Savage Love's resident MD and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Nothing that comes out of the body is truly sterile," Barak informed me via e-mail. "Most urine samples do have very small amounts of bacteria in them. Relative to most other bodily fluids, however, urine is remarkably free of organisms. And compared to stool, which is mostly composed of bacterial mass, urine is pretty close to 'sterile.'"

But before you freak out at the next piss drinker you meet, please consider closely what the doctor said: Relative to most other bodily fluids, urine is remarkably free of organisms. Saliva, for instance, is less sterile than urine, Barak tells me, which makes swapping spit a far more dangerous activity than piss drinking. But some things in life are worth the risks, no?

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