HEALTH CAUTION: Only Use The Toilet When You Are Pressed

Having a beautiful toilet can be tempting a lot of times, thereby making you damn the consequences of going to the restroom too frequently even when your body has not given you any go-ahead.

Are you someone that gets to the toilet door before you stop to ask yourself: ‘should I go to the toilet now, so I don’t have to worry about it later?’

Dr. Elizabeth Farrell, a gynaecologist at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health has this to say to you:

“It’s very important to let your bladder function normally and to empty your bladder when your bladder tells you to. If you keep going to the toilet ‘just in case’ too often, the bladder never fills up properly, then shrinks a bit, so then you do tend to have the feeling that you’re going to have to go more frequently.”

You should go to the toilet only when you need to, Farrell says, a rule that also applies to people (such as children being toilet trained and post-natal women) who are often encouraged to go before they get the urge. Farrell says this is important because “encouraging kids to go to the toilet ‘just in case’ teaches them to go when they don’t really need to, rather than when they get the urge.”

Also, women who have recently given birth, should avoid weeing when they don’t need to so they can re-train their bladder muscles, which may have been stretched during childbirth. But she says women should head to the loo after sex, even if they don’t feel the need to, as this reduces the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

“That’s not going just in case, it actually has a purpose: to empty the bladder so any bacteria around the urethra entrance or in the urethra might be shed when you have a wee,” Farrell says.

Holding on, this does not mean you should hold on to a full bladder either, as making this a regular habit can lead to your bladder becoming overstretched.

“If you overstretch the bladder it loses its proper tone and contraction. So you may get urine staying in bladder if it doesn’t empty properly, and that can increase risk of a UTI and you may have to sit on the toilet a bit longer to empty the bladder,” she says.

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Many of us go to the toilet when we don’t need to because we’re worried we might not be able to find one when we’re desperate. You’re even more likely to develop this habit if you have urinary incontinence – that is, leaking urine when you’re not going to the toilet. But even if you have incontinence, the habit of going to the toilet unnecessarily isn’t a good idea, as it can exacerbate the problem by reducing your bladder capacity. Incontinence is mostly due to the ageing process, it’s also relatively common in women after pregnancy and childbirth.

For older women, floor exercises are the most effective way of improving bladder control. Similarly after childbirth, pelvic floor exercises and time are usually all it takes for most women’s bladder issues to settle down. Pelvic floor exercises mean pulling up the muscles around the vaginal and anal entrance and around the urethra. But you need to do them properly.

“If a woman is not doing the exercises properly, and many women don’t do them correctly, then seeing a physiotherapist who is trained as a pelvic floor physiotherapist would be the ideal thing to do,” Farrell says.

If you have urinary incontinence you should speak to your doctor to know your best options for treatment, these can also include bladder retraining, medication or surgery.

Incontinence usually affects older men due to an enlarged prostate or after prostate surgery. Again, pelvic floor exercises can help to improve bladder control, and these exercises are particularly important during recovery from prostate surgery. Pelvic floor physiotherapists can tailor an individual exercise program to ensure they are done correctly.

Healthy bladder habits may not be something you think about every day, but maintaining a healthy bladder is important at any age, and especially so if you want to avoid problems as you get older. You can keep your bladder healthy by: Drinking around 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day which ensures your urine is less concentrated; avoid drinking too many caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate and soft drinks, as these can irritate the bladder; perform pelvic floor exercises regularly, even if you don’t have incontinence.

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