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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Human Anatomy

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Picture of the Bladder

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The urinary bladder is a muscular sac in the pelvis, just above and behind the pubic bone. When empty, the bladder is about the size and shape of a pear.

Urine is made in the kidneys, and travels down two tubes called ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores urine, allowing urination to be infrequent and voluntary. The bladder is lined by layers of muscle tissue that stretch to accommodate urine. The normal capacity of the bladder is 400 to 600 mL.

During urination, the bladder muscles contract, and two sphincters (valves) open to allow urine to flow out. Urine exits the bladder into the urethra, which carries urine out of the body. Because it passes through the penis, the urethra is longer in men (8 inches) than in women (1.5 inches).

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