Today we begin a series of blog posts related to bladder health… Something that many of us have had to (or will have to) think about on a DAILY BASIS.

While incontinence isn’t a “sexy” topic, just take a look at how common it is:

  • 25 million adult Americans experience transient or chronic urinary incontinence. NAFC (National Association for Continence) estimates that 75-80% of these sufferers are women.
  • One-third of men and women ages 30-70 have experienced loss of bladder control at some point in their adult lives and may be still living with the symptoms.
  • On average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they obtain a diagnosis for their bladder control problem(s).

It’s time to take the lid off of incontinence. People need to know how common it is, that they’re not alone, that it does NOT have to be a normal part of aging, and that there’s help! There are a number of (simple!) lifestyle changes that any woman can make starting RIGHT NOW to help support pelvic and bladder health in order to prevent or reduce symptoms of incontinence. Hence the FemFusion® Fitness Healthy Bladder Series. Watch for new posts every other week, and use social media to share this info with your friends and family!

Tip One: Don’t Hover

As a women’s health physical therapist, I consider myself an advocate for bladder health and wellness. When I was in clinical practice, I was shocked by the number of women with bladder control issues who admitted to “hovering” above the toilet seat to urinate. I encouraged all of my patients who “hovered” (rather than sitting fully on the toilet) to stop this habit immediately! If sanitation is a concern, use a toilet seat liner. If a liner is unavailable, line the toilet seat with toilet paper… Or just take a risk and sit down on the seat!  A person’s bottom and upper thighs, which are covered most of the day, are usually much cleaner than a person’s hands, and we tend to have no qualms about social situations that require a handshake.

So please, sit and relax when you need to pee.

The problem with “hovering” above the toilet seat while urinating is that the muscles of your pelvic floor and pelvic girdle (i.e. your hip rotators, buttocks, back, and abs) are extremely tense. This muscular tension makes it difficult for urine to flow easily, often requiring you to push or “bear down” slightly to initiate urination. You may also find yourself pushing to make the urine flow out faster, because it’s hard work hovering above the toilet! Your thighs are burning, and you’re thinking “let’s just hurry this along!” Frequent pushing or bearing down to urinate can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse.

Even if you don’t push to urinate when “hovering,” due to the tension in the pelvic floor and core muscles you may not fully empty your bladder. This can lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder which may ultimately cause increased frequency and urgency of urination, or in extreme cases, may even contribute to increase likelihood of bladder infections.

toilet seat

So again, I implore you to sit down and relax. Take a load off… We don’t have many opportunities to do so! Use your bathroom breaks as a time for a brief bit of R&R… your bladder will thank you.

Questions about squatting to have a bowel movement? SQUATTING is a different story… It involves fully resting into a low squat position (not semi-squatting high above the toilet seat). For more information about squatting to eliminate, check out “How to Poop: Squatty Potty Review.”