A Boston doctor posted a TikTok Sunday telling people not to urinate “just in case” in response to another TikToker’s video on vacation bathroom break tips.
“I know it sounds counterintuitive and goes against everything your momma taught you,” the doctor wrote. “Just out here trying to save your bladder.”
Pelvic floor physical therapist Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, who posts content regarding pelvic floor and bladder health on TikTok and Instagram, says that urinating “just in case” could lead to earlier sensations for urination than normal. In her video, she states that “your bladder has three levels of sensation of filling.” She says the first is an “awareness level,” the second one “tells you to make a plan to use the toilet,” and the third level is a “panic button” that indicates the bladder is about to “overflow.”
Jeffrey-Thomas, who works for Greater Boston Urology, says that if an individual regularly uses the restroom before hitting the second level of sensation, their bladder will send the sensation to urinate sooner. “Over time this compresses those three levels together,” she says. “And so the difference between feeling like there’s some urine in your bladder and feeling that panic button like you’re about to pee your pants is going to happen in a much shorter amount of time.”
Jeffrey-Thomas says to only urinate “just in case” if an individual is going to be in a car for longer than an hour, is going to bed, or is about to or just had sex.
Jeffrey-Thomas told the Daily Dot that “normal time between trips to the bathroom is every 2-4 hours during waking hours and not needing to wake at night to urinate with a 1x/night exception if you’re older than 65 or pregnant.”
She also said “(Just in case) peeing is one of the more common habits I see in my patients because it’s an easy adaptation to turn to if you have urinary urgency or leakage, but unfortunately it only serves to worsen the problem over time.”
Jeffrey-Thomas said that while she can’t point to “specific numbers,” “the majority of people I treat admit to doing this when we talk about bladder habits.”
She said that “a lot of it comes from when we were potty trained as kids and then we just kept the habit. And also from restrictive school and work environments that don’t allow people to listen to their bodies’ signals and plan accordingly.”
In response to Jeffrey-Thomas’ video, which has accumulated over 5.4 million views, the original content creator wrote “oh hey thanks for correcting me.”
Health-based news organization Healthing covered this phenomenon in May 2020. Dr. Steven A. Kaplan stated that sensitization of bladders needing to urinate at lower volumes is correlated with the act of going “just in case.” He said that “the bladder never fills up properly, then it shrinks a bit.”
Jeffrey-Thomas makes numerous videos about urinary health. In another viral video, the doctor explains that individuals should not hover over toilets when urinating in public restrooms.
@thepelvicdancefloor Reply to @itssupergay let’s talk public bathrooms and hovering! #TikTokPartner #LearnOnTikTok #bathroomtok #pelvicfloor ♬ Asian style warm tropical house – Future Oriented Triad
“Hovering is really not great for your pelvic floor muscles,” Jeffrey-Thomas says. “When your bladder reaches a certain threshold, it contracts to empty the urine out of it and the pelvic floor muscles relax and get out of the way so the urine can flow through. If we’re hovering, our pelvic floor isn’t going to relax.”
She continues that interrupting the relationship between the pelvic floor and bladder “can lead to difficulties with controlling urinary urgency.”
Jeffrey-Thomas wrote on Instagram that she has “bladder retraining videos” for those who struggle with urination sensations that occur too early.
The video, which has accumulated over 651,000 likes and over 8,000 comments, prompted some to thank the TikTok doctor for helping them retrain their bladders. Others joked that this is their “life misery” and that they have to go when they “have the chance.”
In response to another comment, Jeffrey-Thomas wrote that “it’s NOT good to hold for an 8-hour work day.” However, she wrote in another comment that “having a 3-4 hour void interval is totally fine.”
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