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Incontinence

Updated 15 September 2020

Why you shouldn’t force out your pee

Yes, it turns out there is a 'correct' way to urinate, especially if you are concerned about your pelvic muscle strength.

  • Are you struggling to pee and finding yourself forcing your urine out?
  • This could 'train' your pelvic muscles to tighten up when they should be relaxed
  • By doing this, you risk aggravating urinary incontinence

Surely peeing is something that should come naturally when nature calls? But the bladder and pelvic floor muscles are complicated parts of the body that can sometimes malfunction, especially when we are not using them correctly.

Have you ever found yourself forcing urine out? According to Yale Medicine urologist Dr Joseph Brito, you shouldn’t have to squeeze urine out. A healthy bladder works best when the pelvic floor muscles are somewhat relaxed. You should also not be using your abdominal muscles to force urine out, as you would with a bowel movement.

Pushing – and your pelvic muscles

When you squeeze your pelvic muscles when urinating, you are in fact training your brain to activate the pelvic floor when it should be relaxed. When these muscles contract, the pressure around the urethra and bladder neck increases, making you unable to completely empty your bladder, which could lead to problems such as infection.

Someone who routinely forces urine out will start developing a stop/start flow pattern because the pelvic floor muscles become confused about what they should be doing when your brain signals for you to urinate.

If you already have a tight pelvic floor, this could place even more strain on the muscles and lead to conditions such as pain and urge incontinence.

Should I worry if I constantly have to squeeze?

If you find that your urine doesn’t flow naturally, there may be a number of reasons. In males, a common cause of difficulty urinating is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate.

Difficult urinating could also be caused by other factors such as nerve problems, certain medications, weakened bladder muscles, an obstruction of the urethra or a urinary tract infection.

If you constantly find yourself struggling to empty your bladder, seek expert medical advice, especially if you also experience pain, burning or blood in the urine.

Yes, there is a 'healthy' way to pee

If you are simply squeezing your pelvic floor muscles out of habit whenever you're on the loo, here are some healthier ways to pee:

  • Sit up properly with your feet on the floor. This will allow you to empty your bladder completely.
  • Many urologists suggest the “double voiding” technique, where you empty your bladder twice to ensure that it’s completely empty.
  • Don’t hold in your urine for too long. Over time, this can stretch the bladder, which may aggravate incontinence.
  • Don’t go to the bathroom too often during the day. This may train your bladder to respond to even the smallest quantities of liquid, which will make you want to pee even more frequently.
  • Stay hydrated, as many urinating issues are linked to dehydration. Make an effort to drink enough water during the day.

READ | How a tight pelvic floor can cause incontinence and other issues 

READ | What your bladder is trying to tell you about your health 

READ | 5 lifestyle changes you can make to improve urinary incontinence 

Image credit: Unsplash

 

Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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