We're all guilty of saying or thinking this from time to time... "I'm heading to the shops... I'll just duck to the toilet for a wee before I leave." Surely its not such a bad thing!?! WRONG! You need to STOP DOING THIS!
Healthy or 'Normal' Bladder Function
With a healthy bladder, there are usually two urges or signals to urinate before you really need to empty your bladder.
- The first signal is when the bladder is around half full - "I'm not ready to empty now but in an hour or so I will be." Think of this signal as a 'false alarm' or a 'warning sign'. You should try to ignore this and continue going about your day. With a healthy bladder, this urge to urinate will disappear.
- The second signal is typically when the bladder is full and needs to empty. This signal tends to be more intense, feels full in the lower abdominal wall and will hang around or keep coming back and back and back until you go to the toilet and empty your bladder.
- When you relax to urinate the detrusor muscle is responsible for contracting and squeezing the urine out of your bladder
The time between voids (urination) depends on various factors such as fluid intake, perspiration, exercise and the environment, but on average you should be aiming for 2-3 hours between voids. Alternatively, you can count the number of times you take yourself to the toilet to urinate. Normal is around 7 times a day and 0-1 times throughout the night.
A normal healthy bladder will hold around 300-400mL of urine during the day and 600-800mL of urine at night.
What 'Just in Case' visits do:
When we go to the toilet 'just in case' we haven't felt the urge to urinate therefore there is minimal to no urine in the bladder. Over time, if you do this frequently, the bladder isn't filling to capacity and it becomes accustomed to emptying smaller amounts of urine. This occurs as the point to which the bladder fills to and gives the "I'm full" signal becomes less and less. Hence, you feel a sensation to empty more frequently and you will end up going to the toilet more often.
What you should do:
- Wait until you feel the urge to urinate then work out if it is a false alarm or a legitimate need to empty your badder. If it is a false alarm, when you try to hold on or distract yourself the urge to urinate will pass. Where as, if it is a legitimate need to empty, the urge to urinate will hang around.
- Ensure that you are completely emptying your bladder when you are sitting on the toilet. Don't rush and ALWAYS SIT DOWN - your should never hover over a toilet to empty your bladder or bowel.
- Avoid caffeine, carbonated drinks or alcohol in excess as these are bladder irritants and will make you want to urinate more frequently.
- Aim to drink around 2L of fluid a day. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, exercising or are sweating throughout the day you should be drinking more. It is always best to discuss your individual needs with your health care professional or physiotherapist.