Urinary Tract

Urinary Tract - system of organs that produce, store, and eliminate urine.

It includes the following organs:

What Goes On In the Urinary Tract

Your body uses the nutrients from food to maintain all its functions, including energy and self-repair. After it takes the nutrients it needs from the foods and liquids that you have consumed, your body turns the remains of the food into waste, some of which becomes urine. The urinary system works with the lungs, skin, and the digestive system to help extract wastes and help the body maintain proper balance of water, nutrients and different chemicals.


The urinary system removes many types of waste chemicals, substances, and metabolic byproducts. One type of waste called urea is can be removed from your blood. Urea is produced when foods containing protein, such as meat, poultry, and certain vegetables, are broken down in the body. Urea is carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys.

The Kidneys

Bean-shaped organs about the size of your fists. The kidneys are located just below the rib cage near the middle of the back, they remove urea from the blood. Urea, together with water and other waste substances, forms the urine as it passes through the kidneys. In case of kidney-related problems people sometimes have pain that might seem like it is back pain.

After the Kidneys

From the kidneys, urine travels about 8 to 10 inches down two thin tubes called ureters to the bladder. Muscles in the ureter walls constantly tighten and relax to force urine downward away from the kidneys. If urine is allowed to stand still, or back up, a kidney infection can develop because the bacteria inside it would be given time to multiply instead of being quickly removed from the body. Small amounts of urine are emptied into the bladder from the ureters about every 10 to 15 seconds.

The Bladder

The bladder is a hollow muscular organ located in the pelvis and shaped like a balloon. It stores urine until you are ready to go to the bathroom to empty it. It swells into a round shape when it is full and gets smaller when empty. If the urinary system is healthy, the bladder can hold up to 16 ounces (2 cups) of urine comfortably for 2 to 5 hours.

Sphincter Muscles Help Hold the Urine

Circular muscles called sphincters help keep urine from leaking. The sphincter muscles close tightly around the opening of the bladder into the urethra, the tube that allows urine to pass outside the body. They help you hold the urine until it is time to urinate.

Nerves In the Bladder

As the bladder first fills with urine, nerves in the bladder tell you when it is time to urinate, or empty your bladder. As the bladder fills up, the nerves from the bladder send a stronger message to the brain that the bladder is full, and your urge to empty your bladder intensifies.

Normal Urination

When you urinate, the brain signals the bladder muscles to tighten, squeezing urine out of the bladder while the sphincter muscles relax, urine exits the bladder through the urethra. When all the signals occur in the correct order, normal urination occurs.

Causes of Problems In the Urinary Tract

Detecting problems in the urinary system

Common Disorders of the Urinary Tract

Contacting and Choosing Health Professionals

Health professionals who treat urinary problems include general practitioners (your primary doctor), pediatricians, urologists, gynecologists, urogynecologists, and nephrologists.

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