From as early as potty training we develop habits and patterns surrounding micturition (which is the fancy word for peeing or urinating or voiding).
There are many complex explanations on how our bladder and continence of urine is controlled, but I’ll keep it brief and simple. Our kidneys produce urine and store it in our bladder which can stretch to store this urine. When it reaches a certain threshold muscles around the bladder that contract to empty. We have no control over these muscles that surround the bladder. However, our external sphincters and pelvic floor muscles we do have control over! The conscious control of these external pelvic floor muscles is why we have conscious control over our bladder- which is great!
Unfortunately, there are some very common habits that many, if most people have that tend to throw this system out of balance. If you are loosing control of your bladder, urinating very frequently (less than every 2-3 hours) or having to rush to the bathroom in order to not loose urine take a read and see if there are some behavioral changes that will make you a highly effective pee-er!
Common Habits and Fixes
Solution: Say no to “JIC-ing” if it has been a few hours and you have the urge to go, then go. Know where the restrooms are if you are in a new place for a few hours so you are not worried about finding a place to go. If you find you are out and about and have to go because you did JIC- see urge suppression techniques below!
Solution: Sit, relax, you are not going to be infected with anything by sitting on a public toilet seat! If this does not calm your mind enough consider making a toilet paper “nest” for yourself, bringing some wipes in your purse, or even a pair of tube socks in your bag (you can slip one sock over each half of the seat- then toss the socks or wash them at home after).
Solution: Again, Relax, let your elbows rest on your knees or even slouch! Get comfy, breathe and relax your pelvic floor muscles and let yourself fully empty. A slow stream WILL GET BETTER as the detrusor muscle (bladder muscle) learns it must work and will not get a free ride from you straining. If you are finding the stream slows to drops but you feel like you have more you can do a “double void” instead of straining. A double void is when you end the void, get up, maybe wash hands or just stand for a moment- then sit and try to go more. You may have better luck emptying on that second go.
You can also try to do some gentle “pelvic floor breaths” instead of getting up to see if this allows the stream to improve or to feel fully empty. A pelvic floor breath is when you feel your pelvic floor lower/expand on an inhale and elevate on exhale (not a full on squeeze) like a kegel, just some muscle movement.
Solution: The topic of “Urge Suppression” deserves it’s own blog post so stay tuned if this is what you need. However, a solution for the purposes of this handout will be: walk calmly to the restroom, do not undress until you are in the bathroom, do so calmly and even consider having a “conversation” with your bladder about how it’s not quite time to go. When you are first practicing this it’s best to do it at home just incase it takes some time to master this strategy