Hey there! In previous blog posts, we've talked about the importance of the pelvic floor and how it affects our bodies. Today, we're going to dive into the bladder and how it works when everything is functioning properly.
Let's think of the bladder like a balloon. It's a flexible object that can expand and shrink, just like when you're trying to learn how to do a split. With practice and persistence, your leg becomes more and more flexible, and similarly, the bladder can adjust to its contents.
The kidneys produce a drop of urine every ~14 seconds, which flows down the ureter and lands in the bladder. This cycle continues until the bladder is slowly filled. As it fills up, you'll start to feel a stretching sensation, just like when you're stretching any other part of your body. This is the point where your brain tells you that you need to go to the bathroom.
But did you know that there are different levels of urgency when you need to go? The first type of urge is when you sort-of have to pee, but you can hold it for a while, like when you're on a road trip and decide to wait for a nicer gas station.
The next level is a more intense urgency, where your brain tells you to start looking for an exit.
And finally, if you continue to hold it, you'll experience the most intense urgency, where your brain is telling you to pull over now! It's important to be aware of these different levels of urgency.
When you finally make it to the bathroom and your bladder is full, it should start its stream instantly as soon as you're ready. You shouldn't have to wait, strain, push, or wiggle around to get the urine to flow. We like to think of it as a rubber band you’re trying to flick at someone, the further you pull back the further it’ll go. The more urine you put into the bladder, the better it'll empty.
Ideally, you should be emptying your bladder every 3-5 hours. If you've had a bladder irritant like coffee, tea, coke, or alcohol, you'll probably need to go more frequently.
At night when you’re winding down for bed, you should be able to go and pee once and then go to sleep and sleep through the night without having to get up. If you have to pee several times right before bed, or you’re getting up over and over again, we’re probably experiencing a bit of dysfunction.
The bladder and the pelvic floor are like a game of red light, green light. When you feel the urge to go and sit on the toilet, your pelvic floor opens, and your bladder closes and squeezes. Then when you're done and stand up, it switches and does the opposite. When we have problems with the bladder and/or pelvic floor, it can negatively affect this reflex loop and lead to issues like starting or stopping the flow of urine.
So, there you have it - a breakdown of how the bladder works and its connection to the pelvic floor. Remember to listen to your body and pay attention to those different levels of urgency!