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The “Just in Case” Pee

By Dr. Brooke Meinema, DPT, FAFS

If you find yourself going to the bathroom “just in case” often, here is a piece of advice: Stop. Doing. That.

I talk with so many people who admit to peeing every time they leave the house, even if it is just to go for a quick walk down the street and back. The mindset of going pee “just in case” can lead to an increased frequency of urination. Just in case peeing trains our body to feel the need the urinate more frequently for several reasons:

  1. First, there are receptors in our bladders that communicate with the brain telling it how full it is and if it needs to void. If you are constantly voiding on a not-so-full bladder, you are training it to think that when it reaches those barely filled receptors to cue your brain to tell you to find a bathroom, even if there isn’t much urine. This will make you feel the need to run to the bathroom more frequently than your body actually needs to void.
  2. Second, your bladder is muscle. How do you make it stronger? Just like you would any other muscle: you increase the amount of weight it needs to hold. If you never allow your bladder to fill with much urine, the muscle will get weaker making it harder to hold on to the urine and not leak if it gets past the point it is used to. I like to think of this as bladder strength training; the urine is a weight, and the bladder needs to get stronger to hold it in without leaking or letting it go.

As you guessed, there are times when it is appropriate to pee “just in case:”

  1. If you are going to be gone for a long time without access to a bathroom (as in going on a road trip where you know you won’t be stopping for a long time), then have at it.
  2. After intercourse: peeing after sex can help flush away bacteria from the uretha. This is especially important for women who are prone to UTIs!
  3. Just before going to bed. You guessed it, going to bed means you will (hopefully) not be getting up for a long time to void. Going to bed with an empty bladder is important for helping you sleep through the night without waking needing to pee.

If you have been struggling with frequent urination or leaking, giving up the “just in case” pee may be a helpful step! As always, there are some factors that may impact each person individually making things much harder to get over. If you have tried giving up the dreaded “just in case” pee and are still struggling, it may be helpful to talk to your medical provider or see a pelvic PT to help address any other issues that may be creating problems.

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