Do you have a bladder the size of an acorn? Do you feel like you’ve always gotta go? As soon as you’re done urinating, do you (almost immediately) have to go again? Do you feel like your bladder doesn’t empty completely? If so, sisters, you’re not alone! Feeling like your bladder doesn’t empty completely is a fairly common condition, and something I’ll discuss below.
But first, a mini-soapbox. Please know that if you try the suggestions below and they don’t help, or if you have questions BEYOND what I’ll share below, then please seek help from a medical professional. Often, people are embarrassed to bring up questions about pee, poo, or any other “strange” (hint: not actually strange) bodily functions. But know that your doctor (or other qualified healthcare professional) is TRAINED TO DEAL WITH STRANGE.
When I was in clinical practice as a physical therapist, I saw strange EVERY DAY. And did I go home and laugh at those patients? Absolutely not! Do I remember them today? NO!!! So don’t worry about sharing your crazy or “gross” or embarrassing stories, and don’t blow them off as “not mattering.” Because if they impact you— even a little — then they matter.
So talk to someone about it!
But first, read my tips to help you RELEASE so that you’re not tied to the restroom.
One of the main culprits behind urinary urgency and bladder control issues is the fact that many women do not fully empty their bladder when they use the restroom. Here are three tips to help:
1) Don’t “hover” above the toilet seat.
As stated in this article, “hovering” can lead to incomplete bladder evacuation due to tense pelvic muscles. If your muscles are unable to relax (because they’re holding you up, above the toilet seat) then they won’t allow the bladder to fully release. SO SIT DOWN AND RELAX!!! Don’t hover. Unless you’re in a really icky outhouse… Then maybe you can hover.
2) Don’t do kegels while urinating.
At some point in the history of “kegeling,” word got out that a good time to do kegels is while urinating (spoiler alert… This is NOT TRUE!). The logic behind this theory is that you use your pelvic floor muscles to voluntarily stop the flow of urine, hence if you can stop the flow while urinating, you will know whether or not you can successfully contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles. Here’s the deal: it’s okay to try a kegel or two while you urinate in order to “check in” to see if you are doing kegels correctly (i.e. if you can stop and re-start the flow of urine). But this is not something you should do on a regular basis.
Regularly doing kegels while urinating can lead to incomplete bladder evacuation, which can make your bladder feel like it’s always full.
You might think your bladder is the size of an acorn… But really, it’s simply the fact that it’s never fully empty! To fully empty your bladder, practice your kegel exercises when you are OFF the toilet.
3) Take your time (don’t rush).
We, as women, are busy creatures. However, we MUST allow ourselves 30-60 seconds to fully empty our bladders!
If you’re too busy to gift yourself 30 seconds to pee, then you’re too busy.
Two negative things can happen when you rush the toileting process. First, you probably aren’t allowing all of the urine to release. Again, this leads to incomplete bladder evacuation and the feeling that you “always have to go.” Second, if you’re trying to release all of your urine, but doing so in a hurry, you’re probably STRAINING. This applies to urinating and to having a BM. Try your hardest to let things flow out naturally! When you strain (i.e. if you bear down to make yourself urinate more quickly or to make sure you’ve emptied your bladder all the way) it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the pelvic organs and the pelvic floor. Frequent straining can lead to problems with prolapse and pelvic floor weakness, which often contribute to incontinence. We don’t want that! When you’re on the toilet, don’t worry about getting the deed done quickly. Take your time.
Here’s a tip if you feel like your bladder doesn’t fully empty without a little “push” from you: rather than pushing, try rocking your pelvis back and forth slowly a few times (i.e. forward and back, forward and back, forward and back). This tips your bladder back and forth and uses gravity to help siphon out every last drop.
Summing It Up:
The next time you use the restroom, sit comfortably on the toilet (no hovering!) with your legs relaxed and knees comfortably apart (not pressed together!). Do not do your kegel exercises right now. Take your time and allow the urine to come out naturally, without pushing or straining. When you think you’re done, rock your pelvis forward and wait a second. A little more might dribble out. Then rock your pelvis back and wait a second. A little more might come. Keep rocking forward and back SLOWLY until you don’t notice any more dribbling. Your bladder is now fully empty, and you didn’t have to push to make it so! This trick has helped many of my patients (and myself)… Give it a whirl.