Four common bladder habits to change
We are all prone to bad habits.
A woman's lifestyle is one of the first things a Women's Health Physio will look at to manage pelvic floor symptoms like leakage, urgency, frequency and prolapse. Our bladder habits have a huge impact on how our pelvic floor works and with repeated bad habits, the pelvic floor muscles learn new ways (and often bad ways) of activating.
4 bladder habits you might not realise you are doing:
1. Holding your bladder for too long
Are you a nurse, a teacher or a mother? With long busy shifts or a baby needing your attention, ducking to the loo when your bladder is calling can often be difficult. In turn we either drink less to avoid toileting or hold onto a full bladder for too long until the message of needing the loo subsides. What this does is adds downward pressure on your pelvic floor and distends (stretches) the bladder. Eventually your bladder learns to hold on to a larger capacity which makes your pelvic floor work extra hard and increases the risk of urinary tract infections as you may not remove all the urine when you finally do make it to the loo. Provided that you are drinking 1.5-2L of water (more if you are exercising, in hot weather or breastfeeding), visiting the loo 4-6 times a day and 0-1 times overnight is considered normal.
Tip:Try and go to the loo when the urge to wee is there.
2. Emptying your bladder too much
On the other hand, going to the loo too often (more than 6 times) before you get that real urge is just as detrimental. Eventually the brain learns that small amounts of urine actually means a full bladder and thus triggering the need for the toilet even more and a tendency to do "just in case wees" whenever you are near a toilet. Unfortunately, this only encourages the problem. You may be going more, simply because you are drinking more or consuming too much caffeine. A urinary tract infection may be another reason you are visiting the loo more often and needs to checked ASAP by your GP.
Tip:It is important to determine the true cause of increased frequency as it is also a symptom of heart conditions and swelling somewhere else in the body.
3. Not drinking enough
We have a tendency to drink less to avoid the above two habits even though 1.5-2L of fluids per day is the recommended amount. Dehydration causes constipation, which makes you strain on the loo and in turn puts unwanted pressure on your pelvic floor. Dehydration also increases urine concentration which irritates the bladder lining, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections.
Tip:Pretty simple, but take a water bottle wherever you go and monitor your intake.
4. Hovering or rushing
I get it, sometimes you just don't want to sit on a public toilet seat or you feel you have to rush when you are at work or at home when the baby is crying. When you hover or rush, the pelvic floor can't work as well as it should; it can't relax and you are likely to strain with your abdominals. Overtime this places unwanted downward pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, affects the dynamic relationship between your core muscles and may encourage overactivity (tightness) of your pelvic floor.
Tip:Place hand towels instead of loo paper on the toilet seat and sit down and let your pelvic floor relax.
Does this sound like you?
Seek help and take control of you bladder today.
Important Note: Bladder habits may develop overtime from ones lifestyle, but they also may be present because of a more sinister problem. If you suspect you have a bladder problem, I urge you to seek help from a Women's Health Physiotherapist who is specialised in this area.