5 Tips for Bladder Health
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Hello friends! November is Bladder Health Month. The bladder and the pelvic floor work together to allow you to pee (or hold it in when you need to), but sometimes they aren’t on the same page which can cause leaks or urgency to go.
Today we are going to talk about a five tips for a healthy bladder.
You may have heard of the pee test where you try to do a Kegel to stop the flow of urine. While this can be a way to see if you’re able to engage your pelvic floor, it’s not something you want to do on a regular basis.
The pelvic floor muscles need to be tight to close off your urethra (the opening where pee comes out) in order to keep pee in. To allow pee to come out, the pelvic floor muscles need to relax. Squeezing your pelvic floor muscles (or doing a Kegel) while you are emptying your bladder sends confusing messages and may prevent the bladder from emptying. This can even cause more serious problems later on.
Instead, make sure to relax your pelvic floor and let urine flow in a solid steady stream.
If you’re straining to empty, watch these short videos to learn more about why this happens and how to fix it.
2. Don’t Hover Over the Toilet
I know, public restrooms can be pretty gross sometimes, but hovering over the toilet while you pee prevents the pelvic floor muscles from being able to contract. Many of your muscles are engaged to hold you over the toilet, and your pelvic floor muscles contract as part of that stability.
Use seat covers or disinfectant wipes on the seat before you sit down and relax.
3. Don’t Hold It In Too Long & Don’t Go Just In Case
Your bladder is a muscle and it stretches as it fills up with urine. If you hold it in too long, typically more than 5 hours, you can overstretch the bladder. If this happens over a long period of time, it can lead to dysfunction in the bladder. (Siracusa, 2018)
On the opposite end, you don’t want to go just in case. We’re probably all guilty at one time or another of going just because we are leaving the house, or any “just because” reason. When we go just because, we teach our bladder to void more frequently. If this is done over long periods of time, it can lead to urinary urgency and leakage. (Siracusa, 2018)
Keeping a bladder diary can be a great way to help you keep track of how often you are going.
4. When You Need to Go, Don’t Rush to the Bathroom
For healthy adults, you feel the first urge to go pee when your bladder is about 40% full. (Siracusa, 2018) That means your bladder can more than double the amount of urine inside before it is full! If the first urge you feel to go is strong and you feel the need to rush to the bathroom, stay calm but don’t rush! This will teach (or reaffirm) to your bladder that it NEEDS to empty itself with the first urge or sensation to go.
If you find this happening to you, use urge suppress or distraction techniques to help you go. Maybe you’ve had this happen to you before: you feel the need to go to the bathroom, but something else grabs your attention like a child who runs out the door. The urge to go suddenly disappears because something more important has your attention. We can use this to our advantage when re-training the bladder on when to go. Check out this great video from Jeanice on what urge suppression techniques are.
Tip: If you are using a pelvic floor muscle squeeze as an urge suppression technique and it’s not working, that may be because you aren’t doing the squeeze correctly. Pelvic floor physical therapist a specially trained to help you learn how to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles correctly and at the right times.
5. Be Aware of Bladder Irritants
Not all food and drinks are created equal. Some can be irritating to the lining of the bladder. When the bladder is irritated, it wants to empty to get rid of what’s inside.
Now this isn’t to say you can never have these foods or drinks. I would never want you to have to give up coffee or chocolate all together! But keep in mind, when you are consuming these, they may exacerbate symptoms of urgency, frequency, and urinary leakage.
Ready to learn more about your bladder and the pelvic floor? Or are you ready to be in charge instead of your bladder? Here are some great resources:
Ask your provider for a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.
Find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT.
Watch our YouTube playlist on Bladder Concerns and Your Pelvic Floor
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics: Learn where the pelvic floor muscles are, what they do, and how they work
Sign up for our email newsletter!
Visit our Instagram page for more on pelvic health.
Watch a quick video to learn about your pelvic floor.
Providers, check out our course Urinary Incontinence and Urogynecology with Dr. Tessa Krantz, MD. If you join our ambassador program, many of our courses are INCLUDED with your membership!
What experiences or tips do you have that can help others? We’d love to hear them. Please join the conversation in the comments section below.
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT
1. Siracusa C et. al. Pelvic health physical therapy level 1. APTA section on women’s health. 2018.