You just pulled into your driveway and all of a sudden you have to pee, right now! You make a beeline into the house and to the nearest bathroom. Typically you make it, but sometimes you leak a bit on the way. Does this scenario sound all too familiar?
Having uncontrollable urges to urinate (and other pelvic floor problems) are more common than you might think. We get in the habit of doing this "mad dash" routine with not only ourselves, but with our children as well. But should we be doing this at all?In short, the answer is no. You should have full control of your bladder as opposed to your bladder having control of you.
The bladder is heavily tied to our limbic system, the emotional part of the brain. Running to the bathroom creates internal thoughts of panic. Am I going to pee my pants? Will I have to wait on a long line into the bathroom? The limbic system takes over and creates a fear that you won’t make it if you don’t rush.
Here are a few urge suppression techniques that can help reverse this cycle:
- Remain calm and breathe
- Distract your brain by thinking about your to-do list or something you enjoy
- Immediately stop what you are doing and sit down if possible
- Apply direct pressure to your perineum (the area between your anus and vagina/scrotum) with your first two fingers, or by gently sitting on the corner of a chair
- Perform several fast pelvic floor muscle contractions (Kegels) until the urge is reduced
- Perform several sustained Kegel contractions until the urge is reduced
Once the urge has been suppressed, you should slowly and calmly walk yourself to the bathroom. Remember that YOU are in control.
As a general rule of thumb, you should urinate every two hours or so. If it has been less than two hours and you feel the urge coming on, you can implement some of the urge suppression techniques in an attempt to make it to two hours. It could take more than one technique and several trials to suppress the urge. Just be patient and give your body and brain the time to learn this new skill. Eventually you shouldn't have to think about it as much.
There are certain beverages that can irritate the bladder lining and contribute to an increased urge to urinate. Cranberry juice helps flush the bladder if you have a urinary tract infection. Although, it is highly acidic and regular consumption can irritate the bladder.
Caffeine decreases water absorption resulting in increased urinary frequency. Try reducing how often you drink coffee or tea. You can also try diluting caffeinated beverages by drinking some water before and after you consume them.
Other drinks that cause irritation include carbonated beverages and artificial sweeteners. Oftentimes people who urinate frequently try to suppress the urge by decreasing their overall fluid intake. This can actually have the opposite effect as it leads to an increased concentration of urine which can irritate the bladder wall.
If you are experiencing urinary frequency or incontinence it is also wise to be evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist to help determine all contributing factors, including any muscle imbalances.
You can learn more about pelvic health in general by clicking here. Stay tuned for more articles on this topic to come!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenn Perna is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) who specializes in pelvic health for pregnant and postpartum moms. She works at Activcore in Princeton, New Jersey, located just 2 miles from Princeton University.
Jenn's extensive clinical background and education make her uniquely qualified to handle more complex conditions like pelvic floor dysfunction, including bowel, bladder and sexual health problems. She holds a Bachelors degree in Biology from Juniata College, as well as a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from Columbia University, ranked among the top 30 physical therapy schools in the country. She also has advanced post-graduate training in pelvic health, including internal pelvic examinations, through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.
Jenn goes beyond the pelvic floor and looks at the whole body to help you recover from pain and injury, and safely return to a fulfilling life of sport, activity and wellness. She possesses a rare combination of highly developed skill sets in both orthopedics and pelvic health that make her exceptionally equipped to treat you from head to toe. In fact, she is among less than 10% of all physical therapists who have earned the prestigious OCS designation as an orthopedic clinical specialist. Additionally, she is recognized nationally as a leading authority in the application of Redcord, a suspension exercise system designed to help you develop a smarter, balanced body through the power of neuromuscular activation.