Don’t Hold It—November Is Bladder Health Month!

November 7, 2019   Pelvic Health

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How often does this happen to you?

It’s midnight and you’re awake, but not because you’ve had a bad dream or are having trouble sleeping. You’re awake because you have to urinate despite going before bed. But why? The reason for these routine tip-toe trips to the bathroom may have a lot to do with your bladder’s health.

Because November is Bladder Health Month, we’re sharing some interesting facts and simple ways you can keep your organ healthy and strong and reduce the number of midnight potty runs and other inconvenient trips to the ladies’ room.

Drink up—Water is GOOD for you!

There’s a reason doctors always tell you to drink six to eight cups of water a day. It’s GOOD for you! We often hear about the importance of drinking water, but how many of us make a habit of drinking the recommended amount? Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and allow you to consistently flush bacteria from your urinary tract and prevent bladder infections.

Of course, balance is important in all things. We sometimes think that if we drink double, or even triple, the amount recommended, it’s even better, but this isn’t exactly the case. Besides unnecessarily making you a frequent flyer to the bathroom, drinking too much water can cause dangerous imbalances in your body’s electrolytes, so try hard to listen to your own body’s well-tuned thirst mechanism, and respond to that if 6-8 glasses and your active life leave you thirsty.

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Feed your bladder healthy fluids

Don’t feed your bladder with things that irritate it. Aspartame (think diet sodas and “skinny drinks”), caffeine, and alcohol are all fluids known to irritate the bladder. Try eliminating these bladder irritants from your diet for a few days. You might notice that without these fluids in your system, you can actually hold your urine better.

Another good tip is to avoid excessive sweets. When your kidneys encounter too much sugar to reabsorb it all, sugar is redirected into your urine and feeds infection-causing bacteria and yeast in both the bladder and the vagina.  In contrast, a healthy diet low in simple sugars encourages a healthy urinary and vaginal microbiome that protects you from infection.

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Keep it clean—What is good genital hygiene anyway?

Your bladder is healthier and happier if you keep your hygiene practices simple and treat your genital area gently for the delicate tissue it is.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • When washing your lady parts, wash gently with warm water on the outside only. Use only water or very light soap like Castile or Cetaphil.
  • Avoid sprays or perfumes, and don’t use pads made of artificial materials (plastics). The healthy skin oils and microbiota of the genital area keep it healthy and protected from infection.
  • When wiping after going to the bathroom, always use undyed toilet tissue, and wipe front to back to avoid spreading bacteria into the urethra.
  • Urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria that may have entered the urethra during intercourse.
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When nature calls, ANSWER.

Go when you truly have to go and contact your provider if you feel like you are becoming a slave to the bathroom. The bladder empties best when it is full. If you find yourself rushing to the bathroom more and more with not much urine to show for it, you may be guilty of spoiling your bladder.

Contrary to popular belief, you are in charge of your bladder. If you really know it is too soon to have a full bladder and you get the urge, you can calm that urge by simply thinking, “It is not time yet.”

Another helpful tip is to exercise those pelvic muscles. A five-second Kegel squeeze (try tucking in your vagina to find these muscles) also sends nerve impulses to your bladder that relax it and allow it to accommodate more urine. But if you know your bladder is really full, take care of it by going to the bathroom in a timely fashion.

While most women can usually go two to four hours between trips to the bathroom, it’s important to understand that all women are different, and you may not fall into that schedule. Increasing urinary urgency and frequency can also signify a urinary tract infection, overactive bladder, or even digestive tract issues.

So, if it seems that you have to “stop and go” more than most of your peers, consider seeking medical care.

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Elizabeth Chase, MD

My goal for you is for you, and not your bladder, to be the driver in your life. If you want to get the steering wheel back in your hands, I would like to help you.

— Elizabeth Chase, M.D., F.P.M.R.S.

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