How well do you know your waterworks? In our recent quiz as part of Women's Health Week, we busted some common bladder myths to show you how you can be more in tune with your pelvic floor and kinder to your bladder.
Myth #1: It's best to empty your bladder often 'just in case' – for example, before going into the cinema or on a long car ride.
Incorrect. Going 'just in case' may train the bladder to hold smaller amounts of urine. Then, when you really need to, it's harder to hold on.
Your bladder is a reservoir. Its job is to store urine until an appropriate time and place that suits you to empty it.
Myth #2: It's better to hover over, rather than sit down, on public toilet seats.
In truth, your bladder actually empties itself much better when you are seated and relaxed on the toilet.
If you need to, use a disposable toilet seat cover or pop down some loo paper, but don't get into the habit of hovering over the toilet. Remember, you can't catch an infection from a toilet seat.
Myth #3: For optimal health, you should drink 2 litres of water a day, in addition to all your other fluids.
Unless instructed otherwise by your doctor, aim to drink 1.5-2 litres of fluids in total every day. This includes everything that you drink, not just water.
Tap water is still the recommended choice for optimal hydration, but other beverages such as fresh juices, decaffeinated tea and coffee, even soups and smoothies all count. There is no evidence to suggest that drinking more than 2 litres of fluids a day is necessary.
Myth #4: It's OK to leak a bit of urine when you go to gym or for a jog – at least you're exercising, right?
Wrong! Unfortunately, this type of bladder leakage tends to worsen over time, so it's best to change your exercise routine and seek help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist, with the aim of returning to these types of exercises later.
If you have issues such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, you'll need an intensive program of exercises that aims to get you back to your fitness activities.
Myth #5: Once you reach a certain age, it's too late to strengthen your pelvic floor.
It's never too late! As long as a muscle can work, you can always improve how well it functions.
And now we have busted those myths, here are a couple of other things you might not know about your pelvic floor...
Regardless of whether you have had children, every woman should be exercising their pelvic floor muscles every day.
This helps to prevent bladder and bowel leakage and pelvic organ prolapse (in which your bladder, bowel, vagina or uterus can 'drop down' and sit lower than usual). Tie your pelvic floor exercise in with a daily task such as brushing your teeth, standing at the train station, sitting on the bus – make it not negotiable!
Investing in your pelvic floor health might also improve your sex life.
Many women do report that strengthening the pelvic floor muscles leads to greater pleasure from penetrative sex and more intense orgasms. The vaginal walls are layered with the pelvic floor muscles. So exercising these muscles can also increase blood supply and nerve activity in this area which, in theory, can all lead to greater pleasure.
Hopefully you now know a bit more about your pelvic floor and how to keep it in tip-top shape.
This content was originally published as a quiz during Women's Health Week 2018.