You’ve been weeing since the day you were born, but are you doing it correctly? Birgit Bulla, author of Home and Dry, the ultimate guide to the bladder, believes we could all benefit from a few tips
Image: Getty Images)
Since my late 20s, I’ve been needing to pee constantly. I always want the aisle seat at the cinema or on a plane, and I never leave the house without a final dash to the toilet, writes Birgit Bulla.
A decade on, my irritable bladder rules my life, pressuring me to pee, super urgently, every half hour. And it revs from zero to 100 in seconds, like a Ferrari – but, unlike a Ferrari I don’t brag about it.
Sadly, it’s not that uncommon for bladders to go haywire. Urinary tract infections are the second most common illness for which women visit a doctor, while experts consider incontinence a common condition.
But issues related to the bladder still don’t get much attention and there’s a lot we can learn. The best place to start? How to pee correctly.
As with so many things in life, mistakes can be made… Don’t delay Don’t panic, your bladder won’t explode, but it’s not healthy to hold urine in for too long.
If you occasionally put off going to the toilet, no problem. If, however, you keep doing it for months, or years, you’re conditioning your bladder.
It gets used to store as much urine as possible, which overextends the bladder muscle and wall, until eventually they cannot contract properly.
The sensors that tell the brain how full the bladder stops working, making it hard to pass water because the bladder is too big and flabby.
No wonder doctors call this phenomenon “lazy bladder”.
So rule number one: go when you need to. Keep your knees apart Sit as comfortably as you can on the toilet.
Your feet should rest gently on the ground, parallel to each other. Don’t press your knees together; instead, hold them hip-width apart. Your upper body should be straight.
Better yet, lean yourself forward a little. This way, you can ensure your urethra is in the optimal position to pass water – the urine won’t have to journey through any unnecessary curves or kinks and everything can flow smoothly. Just relax…
Most of your body weight should be resting on the rear part of your pelvic floor. Meanwhile, you can do whatever you want with your arms.
Stretch them out to the sides, put them on your head, do Madonna’s Vogue dance: anything’s allowed, so long as it relaxes you. I recommend just resting them normally on your thighs.
Once you’re relaxed and sitting in position, you can move on to urination itself. Please don’t push or squeeze like a world champion.
This is not a contest, nor a speed test. Relax and let things take their course.
If you do push, you won’t speed the peeing process; instead, you will be pushing the bladder, uterus and rectum down, which over time can damage the pelvic floor and cause organs to prolapse. So just keep calm. Every last drop.
Once the fountain starts to run dry, it’s important to finish the right way. Don’t push out the last drops, even if it feels as if they just have to be squeezed out. It’s better to let it drip until nothing else comes.
Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Watch how you wipe: It’s time to reach for some loo roll. This is one of the most important rules – wipe from front to back.
Otherwise, there’s a risk gut bacteria from the anus will find its way to the urethra, where it can unleash a nasty urinary tract infection (UTI).
According to some sources, about 90 per cent of UTIs are due to the gut bacteria E. coli.
If you use the wrong wiping technique, you’re hauling the germs to your urethra. Great service for the bacteria, bad for your bladder.
■Home and Dry by Birgit Bulla, translated by Rachel Stanyon, is out now (Scribe, £14.99)