Are you peeing too often? Are you happily gardening away only to find that you need to pee, even though you just went a half hour ago? Do you find yourself wondering whether you will make it to the bathroom or not? This is a very common problem and one that interrupts your sense of bliss while gardening. Read on to learn why this is happening and what you can do to change it!
Why do I need to pee so often?
The 2 biggest reasons why someone feels the need to pee too often are:
- a bladder infection
- overly tight pelvic floor muscles
*** Make sure you see your GP to rule out a bladder infection. The rest of this post will talk about these overly tight pelvic floor muscles ***
What are overly tight pelvic floor muscles?
Pelvic floor muscles are similar to other muscles in your body in that they can become too tight. Most people know what it feels like to have hip flexors that feel too tight or overly tight hamstrings that don’t allow you to reach to the floor when you bend forward. When your hamstrings are too tight, they can affect how your back moves…or doesn’t move…and this can result in pain. When the pelvic floor muscles are too tight they will affect how the bladder feels. This muscle tightness can cause the bladder to contract when it shouldn’t. When the bladder contracts, it makes you feel like you need to pee and this makes you pee too often.
How do I know I’m actually peeing too often?
Let’s talk about what the ‘norm’s are for how often we should be emptying our bladders:
- 5-8 pees per day is considered normal and this is based on drinking 2 litres of water per day
- 8-12 seconds is how long we should be peeing for
If you are peeing too often, you might find yourself in the bathroom 12 or 15 times per day. Unless you are drinking a lot more water; 4 or 6 litres, then 12-15 pees per day is a tad high. If you find that some of those pees take 5 seconds, then this is another tip that is telling you that you are peeing too often.
How do I know if my pelvic floor muscles are too tight?
The easiest way is to go for a session with a pelvic health physiotherapist. But, if that isn’t a possibility, then here are a few things to think about:
- do you have pain with intercourse/penetration?
- does it hurt to insert a tampon?
- are your pap tests quite painful?
- are you are going to the bathroom a lot during the day and/or night?
- does it take a bit to get the urine stream going?
Why did this happen?
It’s not always easy to figure out WHY something happens, but here are some of the more common reasons:
- trauma (sexual, physical, mental)
- horseback riders (lots of inner thigh tightness)
- muscle imbalances
- chronic pain (anywhere in the body)
What do I do now?
There are a few main approaches to this problem:
- do a bladder diary
- learn to control the urge/false message
- lengthen your pelvic floor muscles
You can google bladder diary and print one off. Below is an example of a link.
It’s best do your diary for 3 days so you can take an average. There may be a difference between work days and non work days. Notice where you are in relation to the ‘norms’. Using a bladder diary helps you to see where you are now. As you work towards making a change, you can always do another bladder diary 6-12 weeks later and notice the improvement you are making.
Learn to control the urge
When you feel the urge to go, but you just went pee a half hour ago, there is no way your bladder can actually be full. Yes, you will feel like it is full; like you have to go, but you actually don’t. Your bladder doesn’t actually shrink but it signals your brain that you have to go way before your bladder is actually full. If you keep giving in to this urge, it may become more problematic. Instead of needing to pee 12-15 times per day, now you are peeing 18-20…and so on. It’s time to learn to control the urge! Follow along with the example below:
What not to do
- You pee at 11am
- At 11:30, you feel a strong urge to pee
- You squeeze your legs tightly together and frantically run towards the bathroom; hoping you will make it in time
What TO do
- You pee at 11am
- At 11:30, you feel a strong urge to pee
- You sit down, take 3-5 big belly breaths and calm your system down
- You return to what you were doing
- You feel the urge again
- You repeat the above steps
- When you feel like you better get to the bathroom, you walk there calmly; stopping and taking a few deep breaths if you feel the urge again
- You continue this calm approach en route to the bathroom
You are teaching your nervous system a new pattern. When your bladder is contracting inappropriately, this is your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) becoming too active. I want you to access your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) to calm things down.
Lengthen your pelvic floor muscles
If we want to stretch our back muscles or our hamstrings, we can just bend forward and feel a nice release along these muscles. But how do we stretch our inside, pelvic floor muscles? What we do is we exaggerate what is happening physiologically in our bodies all day. When we inhale, our diaphragm (our main breathing muscle) lowers and our pelvic floor muscles lower as well. The easiest way to access our pelvic floor muscles is with a big belly breath. Try this out…
- sit comfortable or lay down on your back
- take a big inhale and allow your belly to become bigger as it fills with air
- picture something opening, releasing, becoming bigger as you inhale (like a flower opening, an elevator lowering to the ground floor, the jellyfish opening as it swims through the water)
- feel the subtle lowering/releasing movement of your pelvic floor muscles
- when you exhale, try to keep this release
- do 20 breaths
You can follow along to the video below which goes through a 10 minute stretch routine. Your focus is always the release of your pelvic floor muscles.
How soon should I see a difference?
If you are doing your work consistently, you will most likely see a difference very quickly; within a couple of weeks. You will notice that you ARE able to control this inappropriate urge to pee. This means you are peeing less often and this means you are going in the right direction.
And remember: Keep working on it! This is not something you have to live with!