Ladies: Here is How to Pee for Better Health

Woman peeing

Your pee can tell you a lot about your health, so pay attention, pee regularly, don’t over-wipe, wipe correctly, or pee standing up, and drink plenty of water.

Healthy pee is indicative of good health. To reduce your risk of diseases, infections, and complications, check your pee regularly. Ensure that you have an unscented, colorless pee stream for good health. Drink plenty of water and reduce your consumption of alcohol, coffee, and soda. Holding your bladder is not good for your health either and can cause many problems, so don’t be ashamed to make a run to the bathroom. Go when you need to go and see your doctor if you notice any changes in frequency, urgency, color or scent.

SEE Urine Color and What It Says About Your Health.

If you pee standing up, holding your inner labia is less messy and reduces the risk of spreading germs compared to using a device. When peeing sitting down, be gentle and make sure you thoroughly clean your vaginal area so you don’t have embarrassing spots on your panties or bacterial buildup on your vagina.


READ ALSO, Is there a ‘right way’ to clean the genitals—the vagina? Find out!

Despite us learning how to wipe when potty-training, many of us forget to wipe front-to-back. According to Alyssa Dweck, M.D. and ob-gyn and author of, V is for Vagina, wiping back-to-front can cause rectal bacteria to come into contact with our sensitive lady parts, which can cause infections.

READ ALSO, Vaginal care dos and don’ts to prevent infection, odor, and irritation.

Also, over-wiping can cause irritation, inflammation, and itching. If you feel the need to over-wipe, it can be a sign that you still have more pee in your bladder or that you need to increase your water and fiber intake. According to Anish Sheth, M.D., a gastroenterologist and author of What’s Your Poo Telling You? you should only need to wipe roughly two times. So be sensitive to your lady bits and keep them clean, but not overly clean. In fact, using wipes, sprays, and lotions can irritate the skin as well and throw off your PH balance, leading to irritation and infections.

Common urination habits could contribute to bladder problems.


There are five common urination habits that can contribute to bladder problems. Find out how to avoid making these mistakes, and keep your bladder and urinary tract healthy.

Mistake 1: Holding it


The sensation of having to “go” usually leads to a trip to the restroom. “But, sometimes life gets in the way—a long car ride, a movie, or simply doing something fun can cause a delay,” says Dr. Brito. Even though it can be inconvenient to stop what you’re doing and use the bathroom, urine-holding may lead to a variety of issues. “Ignoring an urge to urinate may lead to leakage. Or, it’s possible that chronic bladder ‘overstretching’ may lead to new bladder symptoms down the road as people age,” says Leslie Rickey, MD, a Yale Medicine urologist who specializes in women's pelvic floor problems.

Delaying bathroom breaks is problematic for kids, too. Urologists occasionally see children with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) or foul-smelling urine. This is commonly associated with urine-holding, Dr. Brito says. “Encourage your children to take their time in the bathroom, and remind them to take breaks from their activities for it,” he says. “The best advice is to visit the restroom when you feel like you have to go; however, if you have to urinate very frequently, like every hour, you should talk to a physician.”

Mistake 2: Not emptying fully


When you’re in a rush, incomplete bladder emptying can cause issues far more problematic than taking the extra minute or so in the bathroom. Similar to urine-holding, incomplete bladder emptying allows a reservoir of urine to collect that can potentially cause urinary infections. It can also increase the odds of developing another painful problem—bladder stones, which are salt crystals that sometimes form when urinary concentration or ‘stasis’ develops.

Incomplete emptying isn’t something you are always aware you're doing, but it’s a good idea to make an effort to ensure you are emptying your bladder, says Dr. Brito. He says this is a particular problem for older men with prostate issues. For them, incomplete bladder emptying can lead to a smaller functional bladder capacity and subsequent urinary frequency and urgency problems.

“Often as men get older, they will not completely empty their bladder. The problem there is, if your bladder's full and you empty it halfway and then drink fluids like you normally would, it fills up more quickly,” says Dr. Brito.

Incomplete bladder emptying becomes a problem as men age because of prostate enlargement (also called benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH), a common condition. This can bring a number of symptoms including increased urinary frequency, urgency, and nocturia (nighttime urination), as well as incomplete emptying. “BPH is usually not a dangerous condition,” Dr. Brito says, “but the symptoms can become pretty frustrating and often life-altering.” Though it is rare, these symptoms can also be a sign of something more serious like prostate cancers, and therefore should be discussed with your primary care physician or urologist.

“Sometimes educating patients to take their time in the bathroom and ensure their bladder is as empty as possible can help,” says Dr. Brito. Other times, patients may need medications or surgery to help the bladder empty better.


Mistake 3: Going too often


One more trip to the bathroom before rushing out the door may seem like smart planning, but it can backfire. The danger is that you can end up “training” the bladder to respond to small volumes, which can lead to overactive bladder symptoms—the sensation of needing to urinate more frequently than is normal, explains Dr. Rickey.

“Going too often at night can also be a problem for men who then can’t fall back to sleep,” says Stanton Honig, MD, director of Male Urology, adding that this condition, called nocturia, can affect the quality of life. “If this is bothersome to patients, there are treatment [medications] for it,” says Dr. Honig.

Other problems can also cause increased urinary frequency, such as an infection along the urinary tract. Therefore, if you find that you need to visit the bathroom far more often than you used to, talk to your primary care physician or urologist. You may need a urinalysis (urine test) to rule out a UTI, as well as to check for blood in the urine (hematuria), which can happen to a small number of people with an overactive bladder who have a bladder tumor, Dr. Brito says. “Blood in the urine is never normal and usually requires further testing to determine its cause,” Dr. Brito says.

Diet can also be a factor for people who notice an uptick on their need to pee. “The bladder is increasingly sensitive as we age,” says Dr. Brito, “and urinary frequency can be due to certain ‘irritative’ foods and beverages such as caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, spicy foods, and acidic foods.”

Some people may also visit the bathroom frequently in an attempt to avoid leakage. Although urinary incontinence (an unintended loss of urine) is common and affects a large number of women, it is not something you should just live with,” says Dr. Rickey. “Directed pelvic floor muscle exercises [physical therapy] can resolve these symptoms.” Other treatments such as medications and minimally invasive procedures are available, too, to help with urinary frequency, urgency, and incontinence.

Mistake #4: Pushing


You shouldn’t have to use your muscles to force urine out. A healthy bladder works best if the body just relaxes so that the bladder muscles naturally contract to let the urine flow, rather than using the abdominal muscles to bear down as with a bowel movement.

In men, the need to push urine may be a sign of bladder outlet obstruction, which is commonly due to BPH. “This benign condition causes swelling in the prostate and problems starting the urine stream—or weak flow,” says Dr. Honig.

Women are less likely to have bladder outlet obstruction, though advanced pelvic organ prolapse can lead to difficulty starting the flow of urine, says Dr. Rickey. The main symptom of prolapse is seeing or feeling a vaginal bulge; it is the result of the pelvic organs (vagina, uterus, bladder, or rectum) descending into the vaginal canal due to weakened pelvic organ muscle support. Having to work hard to push your urine out can also lead to other problems such as hemorrhoids or a worsening of hernia symptoms, explains Dr. Brito.

If you can’t help but push urine out, see a urologist or primary care doctor to determine if you need medication, specific exercises, or other therapies to address your underlying urinary issue. 

 

Mistake #5: Not drinking enough water


Many urinary complaints are related to poor hydration. Generally speaking, if your urine is clear or very light, that's a sign you are drinking the right amount of water. If your urine is dark yellow or amber, that's usually a sign of dehydration.

Odor, an "off" color, and (occasionally) the sense of burning while voiding (dysuria) are other signs that might indicate you are not properly hydrated. Not drinking enough water can contribute to UTIs and kidney stones. Concentrated urine can irritate the lining of the bladder, making it more sensitive. It is also more likely to form kidney or bladder stones.

“Many patients ask if drinking alternative fluids will suffice, but many beverages contain high sugar concentrations or caffeine, which can have other health effects,” says Dr. Brito, noting these might make overactive bladder symptoms worse. “Water is the safest option to maintain hydration and keep your kidneys and bladder healthy.”

There are some conditions that can make your urine appear more concentrated even if you are well-hydrated, such as liver problems or hematuria. So, if you are drinking enough water (about 2 quarts a day) but have dark-colored urine, odor, or burning, it’s worth a trip to a urologist, who can evaluate your symptoms more closely.

"The ability to urinate freely and without difficulty is taken for granted by most people," says Dr. Brito. So, next time you have to “go,” follow the above advice for better urinary health.

Tips, Tricks, and Exercises to Control Your Bladder


How to hold in pee


There’s a fine line between holding in pee and holding it too long. Most doctors will recommend going to the bathroom every three to four hours, except when you’re asleep, to empty your bladder. If you find you have to go a lot more frequently, learning how to hold your pee can help.

Holding your pee for too long can be harmful for you. It can allow excess bacteria to build up in your bladder and can contribute to urinary tract infections. As a result, it’s important to strike the right balance between going too often and not often enough.

Holding techniques


When the urge hits, find ways to distract yourself or at least lessen the urge to go. Some ways you can accomplish this include:
  • Distraction techniques. This can include listening to music, repeating a mantra, reading something, or even making a phone call to someone who’ll understand you just need to talk for a few minutes.
  • Shift your position. Leaning slightly forward can sometimes take the pressure off the stomach and bladder, which may reduce the feeling that you need to go. If this position change doesn’t help, try to find another that does.
  • Remove any liquids from view. They can just remind you that you need to go.

How to control your bladder


Bladder training is a preventive method that helps you retrain your bladder to hold more urine. This is a mind-body approach that helps your brain and bladder learn to tolerate the presence of more urine before creating the urge that you have to go right away.
The steps to bladder training include:
  • Keep a diary for three to seven days about when you go to the bathroom. Write down the time, how much urine comes out, and how much fluid you drink throughout the day. You can measure with a urine collector that fits over your toilet bowl.
  • Review your journal and identify how your fluid intake stacks up to your urine output. Count how many times a day you go and how long you go between bathroom visits. If you’re peeing less than 1 1/2 to 2 cups every time you go or are going more than every 2 hours, there’s room for improvement.
  • Try to get your bladder on a schedule. Commit to going once in the morning when you wake up and giving yourself enough time to fully empty your bladder. After this, try to go every two to three hours.
  • Give yourself time when you go and try to get in a comfortable position. For example, hovering over the toilet seat to avoid touching it can create extra pressure on the bladder that keeps it from emptying fully. As a result, you may feel like you have to go again soon because you didn’t get all the urine out the first time.
  • Avoid going out of convenience, such as when you see a bathroom. These quick, seemingly harmless trips may be ineffectively telling your bladder you need to urinate more often.
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises like Kegel exercises throughout your day. This involves focusing on the muscles you use to stop your urine flow and contracting them for 5 to 10 seconds. Perform five repetitions. Kegels can strengthen your pelvic floor to help you hold urine longer.
  • When the urge to go between your bathroom intervals hits, try to sit for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and focus on something other than your bladder. Make it your goal to reach at least five minutes of waiting. Over time, you can extend this to 10 or even 20 minutes.
  • Continue to maintain your bathroom diary so you can chart your progress and identify times in your day that appear to be trouble zones.

Some people may try to cheat their bladder training by cutting down how much they drink in a day. You still need fluids to stay healthy and prevent dehydration. There are some ways that you can still hydrate without triggering your bladder. This includes stopping drinking anything about one to two hours before going to bed.

You can also time your water intake with your meals when you’re likely to go to the bathroom. For example, you can drink a glass or two of water for about 30 minutes before you eat a meal. By the time you’re finished, you’ll likely need to go to the bathroom before returning to work, school, or other activities.

While bladder training can be helpful, it’s important to approach it with the understanding that you’ll likely have some setbacks. If you keep trying and don’t see improvement, speak to a doctor.

Takeaway


When you go to the bathroom too frequently, learning to hold your pee can be helpful. As long as a doctor determines you don’t have an underlying condition like a weak bladder or a urinary tract infection, you can try techniques to train your bladder to go longer intervals without peeing.
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