Most people don’t pay much attention to the do’s and don’ts of emptying their bladder, but for such a thoughtless bodily function there is a lot that goes into peeing.
It’s easy to pick up bad peeing habits throughout your life without realising that they may be causing damage to your bladder and pelvic floor, so we put together five must-know peeing hacks for optimal bladder health.
Believe it or not, learning how to sit on the toilet properly is crucial for promoting bladder health.
Sitting upright may be great for your general posture, but it’s not the ideal position to be in when peeing as it doesn’t allow your bladder to fully empty.
Instead, sit down on the toilet with your feet flat on the floor, lean forward and rest your elbows on your knees.
This position will allow your pelvic floor muscles to relax and let your bladder fully empty itself.
While we’re on the topic of proper peeing form, another habit to unlearn is squatting or hovering over the loo.
Your pelvic floor muscles can’t fully relax when you hover over the toilet in a partial squat, and urine can’t flow easily. This can cause your bladder to not empty all the way and if done repeatedly over time it can cause your bladder to become less functional.
We know public toilets aren’t always the cleanest, but a simple solution is to wipe down the seat or use a seat cover.
And if you absolutely must hover, try to lean against a wall or door for support to help take some of the pressure off your pelvic floor.
Peeing should feel seamless – like flicking a switch – so you shouldn’t feel the need to contract or strain your muscles to pass urine.
When you forcibly “push out” urine, you’re unintentionally activating your pelvic floor muscles, when in reality you should be relaxing them.
In the long run, this could confuse your bladder by teaching your muscles to do the opposite of what they should be doing naturally. So, go with the flow and never interrupt the stream.
If you find yourself needing to push to pass urine it may be a sign that something’s not quite right with your pelvic floor, so it’s worth speaking to your doctor.
Another habit that can confuse your bladder is to have a “just in case” pee.
Whether you have a long car journey ahead, or you want to avoid being woken up in the middle of the night by a full bladder, the last thing anyone wants is to feel the urge to pee at an inconvenient time. So you empty your bladder even though you don’t have the urge to – smart, right? Well, not really.
You may think that going for a “just in case” pee is just sound planning, but when it becomes a daily habit it can sensitise your bladder to empty at lower volumes, reducing its capacity.
Over time, this could cause your bladder to not function properly and become overactive. It’s crucial to always listen to your body and go only when you have to.
Having to hold your pee in can happen from time to time.
Maybe you’re busy running errands and can’t find a public restroom, or you’re stuck in a meeting – we’ve all been in the position of needing to go real bad but not having the chance.
Holding your pee in occasionally won’t cause any issues, but resisting the urge to pee shouldn’t become a habit. Aside from being a generally uncomfortable feeling, holding your pee in could weaken your bladder pelvic floor over time.
It could also make you more prone to UTIs. When you don’t empty your bladder frequently enough, bacteria present in your urinary tract are more likely to colonise and lead to infection.
This can also happen when you don’t drink enough water, so remember to stay hydrated and find the time to fit in regular bathroom breaks.
The only time it’s okay to hold your pee in is if you’re retraining your bladder to treat incontinence, but this should be done under the supervision of a doctor or pelvic floor specialist! Otherwise, listen to your body and don’t make your bladder wait too long.
Poor bladder health shouldn’t be a “normal” part of ageing or childbirth — that’s why we created the Bladder Care Handbook: our guide to life’s trickly moments. Download your free copy for expert tips on how to look after your bladder.