Summer 2023 has flown by. With back to school right around the corner, we’d like to focus on our educators for this month’s blog.
Teachers start their workday very early and have limited times where they can access a bathroom. For these reasons, teachers can experience pelvic floor dysfunction like constipation, urinary urgency, or dysfunctional voiding from holding throughout the day.
Let’s start off this next school year by educating your pelvic floor and improving your pelvic floor function.
School your urinary system
Normal voids are no less than every 2 hours, and even every two hours can be a bit frequent.
Do you feel like you constantly have the urge to go? Do you lose urine on the way to the bathroom because the urge is so strong? Are you urinating in between each class you teach “just in case?”
Here’s the good news: you can train your bladder to get on a schedule that works for you.
How to retrain your bladder? For more information on taking control of your bladder, you can also check out our Jan 2023 blog which goes into more detail.
Make a log for two days where you track how frequently you urinate.
Mark down the times and amount. To keep it simple, you can track the length of your void in seconds.
Writing down what you ate and drank can also help you identify some triggers for frequency and or urgency.
Next, create a goal for length between voids.
For example, if you currently go every hour, two hour intervals may be an appropriate goal to start.
You’ll take baby steps to get there.
For the first few days, try to increase your time between urination by 15 minutes from your baseline.
To do this, you’ll use something called an urge suppression technique.
IE if your starting intervals are one hour and 15 minutes, but you get the urge to go only 30 minutes after you last went.
With urge suppression, you try to distract your brain from the signals your bladder is sending that “it’s time to go.”
You can try a couple deep diaphragmatic breaths, some heel raises, or a set of five Kegel exercises.
See if the urge disappears or diminishes. If you still have the urge after 5 minutes, calmly walk to the restroom. The clock then restarts, and in the example above, your next time to void is one hour and 15 minutes later.
Once you can do this for 3-4 days comfortably, you can increase your interval by 15 minutes until you reach your end goal.
A word on “just in case”
While peeing “just in case” between classes may seem like a logical idea, your bladder learns to get the urge to go even when it’s not really full. Try bladder retraining to decrease your bladder sensitivity.
As a teacher, you’re talking a whole lot and up and moving. That’s hard work! You need to hydrate, but with limited breaks the tendency is to gulp down some water. Are you able to have a bottle in the classroom? If so, sipping is the way to go. Too much water all at once will run right through you.
Also, seltzer is not the same as water. While a little is okay, try to drink regular, plain old water as well. The carbonation can cause some bladder irritation and really ramp up those urges to go.
Pushing to pee
In the restroom before your next class? You may feel like you need to push to void. Your pelvic floor should relax when you void. The extra pressure from pushing can put you at risk for prolapse over time. You may also create some issues with hesitancy or difficulty starting your stream normally.
What if I’m barely going all day?
While you may feel like holding it in for six hours maximizes your productivity, this isn’t the best for your pelvic floor. Besides decreasing your bladder sensitivity, holding patterns can increase pelvic floor tension leading to other unpleasant issues like pelvic pain and constipation.
Finally, constipation always drives urinary issues and constipation can be a big challenge for teachers. Next month, we will help you manage constipation in part 2 of back to school for your pelvic floor.
Is school causing you some bladder distress? Try these tips and reach out to a pelvic health specialist for an evaluation and treatment plan tailored specifically for you.