Is it bad to hold your pee? - Heba Shaheed
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It is important to sit on the toilet seat. Many people hover due to fear of germs and unclean toilets, however the hovering position does not allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax completely. In order to empty your bladder safely, completely and healthily, the pelvic floor muscles need to completely relax down, and this is only possible if there is adequate support, with the bottom on the toilet seat and the feet firm on the floor. It's also crucial to stay adequately hydrated. Ideally a person should be drinking between 6 – 8 cups of fluid per day. This includes water, tea, juice, soup, etc.
A common issue that can arise if the urinary system is unhealthy includes urinary incontinence, which is accidental leakage from your bladder, even if it is just a few drops. This leakage could be due to weakness or poor coordination of the pelvic floor muscles supporting the bladder from underneath or it could be because of increased pressure from a cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, run, lift or sports. This is known as stress urinary incontinence.
Another issue could be overactive bladder, which is when a person has urgency, or is “bursting to go” and not making it in time and losing a bit of urine. Overactive bladder can present with frequency, which is going to empty the bladder more than 8 times per day, and nocturia, which is waking up from sleep to empty the bladder.
Sometimes, due to a habit of holding onto the bladder for long times, the muscles in the pelvic floor can become overactive. Symptoms of an overactive pelvic floor include: hesitancy, which is when it takes a few moments for the urine stream to begin, a slow or thin flow, where sometimes you may feel the need to strain to pass urine, a feeling that the bladder has not completely emptied when passing urine, or a flow that starts and stops rather than being continuous. People who have an overactive pelvic floor can also complain of recurrent urinary tract infections.
In addition to healthy bladder habits, the role of the pelvic floor muscles is significant. Within your pelvis, there exists a sling of muscles that support the pelvic organs including the bladder, the bowel and, in females, the uterus. These are your pelvic floor muscles, and they are shaped like a hammock or a bowl that span across the base of your pelvis and also surround the urethra. The pelvic floor muscles attach to the front of the pelvis at the pubic bone – or pubis. They attach to the side of the pelvis at the hip bones – or ischium. And they attach to the back of the pelvis at the tailbone – or coccyx. The pelvic floor muscles are important for bladder function because they completely surround your urethra and help keep the urethra closed until you are ready to pass urine. The external urethral sphincter forms part of the pelvic floor muscles.
These muscles need to be strong and coordinating well so it is important for people to do regular pelvic floor exercises to keep these muscles healthy. These muscles coordinate with the breathing muscle – the diaphragm. The best way to do pelvic floor exercises is to begin by breathing into the diaphragm and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles down. As you breathe out the pelvic floor muscles should squeeze and lift up. As you breathe in the pelvic floor muscles should relax down again. This is the natural movement of the pelvic floor muscles with the diaphragm. Sometimes these pelvic floor muscles can lift on the breath in – which leads to urinary incontinence, and sometimes these pelvic floor muscles can be too tight because they don’t relax down properly. The health of the pelvic floor is crucial to the health of the urinary system, because the external urethral sphincter form part of the pelvic floor muscles.
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