Updated: Dec 3, 2021
Today we will be talking about some topics that might make some people feel a little uncomfortable. The second we talk about bathroom habits, it can get a bit awkward. But sometimes, you just have to talk about what to do and not to do while tinkling.
Now I get it. Some of us are busy and we want to check our phones, scroll through social media or read a news article while we're on the loo. But one thing you should ABSOLUTELY NEVER DO while are you on the porcelain throne are KEGELS.
Yes, I know what I just said. And I also know that many of you who have been "prescribed" Kegels to strengthen your pelvic floor were probably told to do so while you're relieving yourself because that's how you can tell it's working. I understand. It makes sense. If you can stop the flow of urine mid-stream, you're, for the most part, getting the hang of performing a Kegel.
But this can actually be very detrimental to other areas of your body and this is all to do with the physiology of the urinary reflex.
As your bladder fills, you may feel the initial urge to void or go when it is one-quarter full. It may not be a strong urge, but you can tell it's there. When you're on a road trip and someone else has to stop to potty, this is when you think to yourself, "I could go, too. Why not?"
But when the bladder is full, you will have the strong sensation to void, and this is really when you're the one telling the driver to pull over to the side of the road if you can't find a rest stop in the next few miles.
The filling of the bladder creates a stretch on the bladder wall and sends signals to the brain. When the bladder stretches to the optimal level, the brain will then send signals to the internal sphincter to relax in order to release the urine. At the same time, your sacral nerve will also receive signals to contract the pelvic floor muscles to allow you to make it to the toilet without leakage. Then, you relax your pelvic floor muscles to empty your bladder as your bottom hits the seat.
Now that we understand the physiology of squeezing the lemon, let's get back to how that relates to Kegels. When you try to perform a Kegel during a bathroom break, you may create a negative loop signaling to your brain that you don't want to go. As a result, the bladder might not be emptying completely, which possibly leads to infection.
So please, please, please do NOT perform a Kegel while you are going number 1.
If you need more information on the proper way to perform a Kegel, please check out our last blog here.
If you have any other pelvic health concerns or questions, please contact your local pelvic health therapist!
Dr. Yvonne Huang