Have you ever decreased your water intake to avoid having to use the bathroom throughout the day? Especially with the upcoming warm weather, it is important for both your pelvic floor and your body on the whole to stay well hydrated.
Many people come to physical therapy with complaints of urgency (suddenly having a strong urge to urinate) or urinary leaking with sneezing, coughing, etc. They often tell me that, even though they try to drink less water, the leaking and urgency never seems to get better. In fact, decreasing water intake can make these problems worse.
When the bladder filters the fluids brought to it, it gets rid of things it does not want to keep to use in the body. These filtrates are sent to the bladder for disposal, diluted by the water that we drink during the day. However, when people dehydrate themselves to try and avoid leaking, these filtered substances are no longer diluted. These substances are typically quite irritating to the bladder, especially when they are concentrated due to decreased water content in the bladder. The irritation of the bladder lining can actually cause feelings of urgency, decreasing control over the bladder at the same time.
It is therefore important to maintain hydration throughout the day to decrease irritation to the bladder, not to mention for the health of the rest of your body! The number of ounces of water we need in a day is entirely individual based on one's body size, the climate you live in, and your level of physical activity.
However, you can make a rough estimate of how much water you need by dividing your body weight in half and drinking that many ounces of water. For example, if someone weight 140 pounds, they should drink somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 ounces of water. If someone weights 180 pounds, they should drink about 90 ounces of water. Typically, patients tend to report numbers far below this rough estimate and I suggest gradually increasing water intake to see how this affects their symptoms. Patients are always surprised to see their urgency and leaking decrease when they drink more water, but always report feeling better on the whole with increased hydration levels! Try increasing your water intake by a glass or two of water today and see how it affects your bladder and the rest of your body!
Annabel Bavage PT, DPT
Pelvic Floor Specialist