If you’re an avid GLAMOUR reader, you’ll know we never shy away from a taboo topic. Whether it’s what your poo reveals about your health or WTF perineal massage actually is, we’re here to answer the burning health questions you’ve always been too afraid to ask. You’re most welcome.
The latest taboo health topic we’ve been discussing on our morning Zooms is our ‘lockdown bladders’. Thanks to the freedom of working from home (and so close to a toilet) we’ve all been passing urine a lot more than usual – and according to one doctor, it’s wreaking havoc with our bladders.
“Increasing the frequency that we empty our bladders, which has been the case for many whilst WFH, means that our bladders can get used to holding less urine at any one time,” explains Dr Zoe Williams. “This can have the knock-on effect of our bladder becoming more sensitive to being stretched, and the urge to pee coming on at lower urine volumes, effectively meaning that we feel less able to hold it and need to rush to the loo more often.”
So with lockdown restrictions starting to ease and life resuming again, we can’t just switch off our cameras to run to the loo any time we please. Help.
Here, Dr Zoe Williams, who is working with TENA to encourage women to not let light incontinence hold them back, shares her guide to beating ‘lockdown bladder’ so you can sit in the park for hours sipping Whispering Angel without scanning for a suitable bush.
How can we help our bladders adjust to going back to normality (i.e work). If we attempt to train our bladders to hold it in for longer, and little bits of wee come up whilst trying, is this okay?
“The good news is that we can retrain our bladders to hold normal volumes again, by holding for a while once we feel the urge to go. Try holding for 15 minutes once you feel the urge, then gradually and progressively add a little extra time. In most cases we should be able to leave 3 hours between each toilet trip. Returning to the office, with all of the distractions and it being less easy to access the loo, will likely get us to do this automatically. Accidentally passing a little bit of urine when you cough, laugh or sneeze could be a sign of weak pelvic floor muscles.”
“For the odd occasional leakage, extra protection can be a handy security blanket – try Tena’s Silhouette Washable Absorbent Underwear, which provides Triple Protection for light incontinence, and looks just like regular underwear. This gives women confidence to laugh, run or be tickled, without the fear of leakage, and without sacrificing style.
“It’s also important to strengthen these muscles, by doing regular kegel exercises which can lead to improvements. However, if you continue to leak urine or are leaking large amounts it’s important to speak to your GP for further help and support.”
We’re going to be back in the beer gardens and parks now – We’ve all been so used to being at home and having the toilet so close at all times, how can we prepare our bladder for being back out in public and consuming alcohol which tends to make people wee more?
“One thing that we haven’t missed is the dreaded toilet queue in the pub, and for many of us, we are a little out of practice when it comes to holding it. In situations where you are dependent on public facilities, it’s best to head to the loo sooner rather than holding on too long.
“Alcohol, fizzy drinks and caffeine can make the bladder even more sensitive, so add further to the problem. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water is good advice for a number of reasons, including that it can help with better bladder control and you might be less likely to wet yourself.”
Can ‘just in case wees’ (i.e forcing out a wee before you leave the house so you don’t have to go when you’re out) affect your bladder?
“It’s fine to have a ‘just in case wee’ every now and again, such as before a long journey, but doing this all the time, to the point that the bladder never fills up properly can cause the bladder to shrink a bit, meaning that the amount it can hold comfortably gets less.”
How often should we be urinating? When is a sign it’s too much?
“Most people can hold 300-400mls (just over a can of cola) if they drink about 2L a day and should be able to wait for 3 hours between toilet trips. Passing urine between 4-10 times a day is deemed normal, and getting up once in the night is not of concern. But needing to go to the loo more often than this should prompt a chat with your GP.”