AN EXPERT has explained exactly why “just in case” trips to the toilet are dangerous.
Once in a while, a precautionary pee before a long car journey is harmless.
But if you find yourself taking these trips during a normal day – before eating, popping to the shop or watching a programme – it could be a problem.
Dr Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, who describes herself as “TikTok’s Pelvic Floor PT” explained why in a video that’s been seen almost four million times.
She said: “[I’m a] pelvic floor physiotherapist so I work with a lot of people with overactive bladders, stress incontinence, urge incontinence, the whole nine yards.
“And here’s why you shouldn’t go just in case…”
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Dr Alicia, who works at Greater Boston Urology, drew out a bladder on a piece of paper.
It had three lines to show “three levels of sensation of filling”.
When the bladder has a little urine inside, at the lowest level, it “tells you there is some urine in the bladder”.
The second mid-level tells you to “make a plan to go to the toilet”.
And the third level, the “panic button”, represents when your bladder is full and tells your brain to urgently use the toilet.
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Dr Alicia said if you go to the toilet “just in case”, your bladder is usually between the first and second level of fullness – before you would naturally feel an urge to use the toilet.
If you routinely urinate before the bladder is even half full, it learns to signal the need to go when less volume is present.
“If we are doing this all the time… our bladder starts getting these data points and says maybe we should be sending this signal sooner,” Dr Alicia said.
“Now we’re going to start getting this urge to go a lot sooner than before.
“Over time this compresses these three levels together, and so the difference between feeling like there is some urine in your bladder, and feeling that panic button like you’re going to pee your pants, is going to happen in a much shorter amount of time.”
Fortunately, if you get into this cycle, it doesn't mean the bladder is damaged.
But it will mean you need to use the toilet more often, and more urgently. Constantly needing the loo can make daily activities more difficult.
Bladder training can help reverse this habit and help you to wait longer between bathroom trips.
It involves delaying using the toilet when you get the urge to go, very gradually from around five minutes to 15 minutes and more over time.
Pelvic floor exercises are also beneficial for strengthening the muscles that support the bladder, bowel (and vagina in women).
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Dr Alicia said there are only three instances she would advise using the toilet even if you don’t need it.
These were a car for journey longer than hour, before bed, and before or after sex – urinating after sex helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women.
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