‘Do you need to go to the toilet before we leave?’
It’s a question many of us heard as children. And for parents of little kids, it makes total sense: nobody wants an accident five minutes after you’ve left the house.
As adults, though, it means that many of us are still in the habit of popping to the loo ‘just in case’ before an event, whether it’s a long car journey or a meeting with the boss.
But Tiffany Sequeira, a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist who goes by Gynaegirl on social media, says this overly cautious practice could be wreaking havoc on your pelvic floor.
‘It’s actually a really bad habit for your bladder,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Going for a wee when you don’t feel the immediate need to do so strains your bladder to empty, when it isn’t actually full yet.’
If you do this on the regular, you’re confusing the signals between your bladder and brain.
‘Generally, as the bladder fills, the stretch of urine pressing against the bladder wall creates signals to your brain that results in the following series of urges, eventually resulting in you making it to the toilet and passing urine,’ Tiffany explains.
‘Going on that first signal to pass urine – or even worse going when you don’t feel the urge to pass urine “just in case” – can result in a bladder signaling dysfunction. Over time your bladder becomes accustomed to passing urine at a lower capacity than normal resulting in a “weak bladder,” as some refer to.’
Keeping your bladder and pelvic floor in tip top condition is especially important for women, who are more prone to urinary incontinence. Data suggests around 70% of women aged 35 and 65 struggle with it, but stigma stops many of us talking about it.
So, how can you keep your pelvic floor healthy?
As well as only peeing when you need to, Tiffany recommends getting acquainted with your pelvic floor – a group of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus and bowel.
‘Everyone should be practicing their pelvic floor exercises but they’re especially important if you’re someone who feels they need to wee frequently, often only passing small amounts of urine,’ says Tiffany.
To complete an exercise, imagine you’re trying to stop yourself from doing a big old fart.
‘Squeeze and pull up the muscles from your back passage,’ she adds. ‘You should be able to feel the muscle move. Now at the same time imagine you are also trying to stop yourself urinating and pull those muscles up. You are now contracting your pelvic floor muscle.’
If weeing is a bigger problem, visit your GP or a pelvic physiotherapist for advice.
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