All about the urinary system

The urinary system, which can also be referred to as the renal system or urinary tract, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and the urethra. The main purpose of this system is to get rid of waste from the body, regulate blood volume and blood pressure and regulate the pH of your blood, along with other jobs. The urinary system is also responsible for producing, storing and eliminating urine, which is the waste product that the kidneys produce when functioning.


Kidneys - the kidneys are two bean shaped organs, which are roughly the size of your fist. They are located just below the rib cage, on either side of the spine. Some people can live a normal life with just one healthy kidney, and some people can be born with three kidneys. If you have healthy functioning kidneys, then it is normal for them to filter half a cup of blood every morning, which removes waste and extra fluid from the blood to produce the urine. If your kidneys are not working properly then harmful toxins and excess fluid may build up in the body which can cause symptoms such as high blood pressure, tiredness or persistent headaches.

Ureter - the ureter are the tubes that carries urine from the kidneys down to the bladder. There are two ureter tubes, which connect to each kidney. These tubes are usually between 10-12 inches in an adult. The tubes are made of muscle which allows them to contract when passing the urine to the bladder. Some people can suffer from ureter obstructions, which can be painful, however this is an easily cured condition.

Bladder - the bladder is a hollow muscular sac that is placed in the pelvis. When empty, the bladder is roughly the same size as a pear. Once the urine, that is made in the kidneys and then travels down the ureter, is stored in the bladder. A typical bladder will hold between 300 and 500 ml of fluid before you get the urge to empty your bladder. On average, people will go to the toilet between 6-8 times per day, however this can vary depending on how much fluid you are drinking. One of the most common conditions that effects the bladder, is urinary incontinence which affects it ability to store urine.

Urethra- the urethra is the tube that transports urine from the bladder, to the exit (penis in a man and the vagina in a woman). In a man the urethra is usually around 20 cm, however only around 4.8cm in a woman. The function of the urethra is slightly different in a man compared to a woman, as urethra also carries the semen when a man is ejaculating.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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