What to do if you’re suffering with a weaker ‘working from home bladder'

Working from home has its perks – easy access to the snack cupboard, the fact PJs can be worn all day and being around for deliveries.

But there are some downsides to the new remote working climate. One of them being how easy it is to pop for a wee without any of your colleagues noticing – and the effect this is having on our bladders.

As a result, there’s a new phenomenon emerging which we are coining ‘the WFH bladder’ – whereby the organ is noticeably weaker than it was when we were all in the office.

GP Dr Kandi Ejiofor explains this in a little more detail, saying: ‘Pre-Covid, when people were at work and more active during the day, we would hear stories of people holding their urine for long hours before going to the toilet. However, now that people are at home more and socialising less, the reverse is happening. 

‘Whether that’s due to having the comfort of their own facilities, toilets being readily available or the close proximity and ease of access – lockdown has meant that many people are going to the toilet more frequently in the day.’

It seems our bladders are not as robust as they were pre-lockdown. But why do our bladders get weaker when we go to the toilet more often?

Dr Kandi says: ‘Frequently emptying your bladder means that your bladder gets used to holding less and less urine and like a balloon, it begins to shrink and shrivel. 

‘As it shrinks it can become more sensitive and overactive, triggering the brain that you need to go with less capacity. This can produce a relatively common phenomenon called “Overactive Bladder Syndrome.”

‘Overactive bladder is a group of symptoms classified by either going to the toilet too frequently and/or a sudden uncontrolled need to pass urine, sometimes resulting in leakage of urine (incontinence).’

An overactive bladder usually affects people, women in particular, as they get older but it can occur at any age if a bladder starts to shrink and becomes more sensitive.

The good news is that you can retrain your bladder to go back to its old ways.

Dr Kandi adds: ‘It’s not all doom and gloom and like many muscles in our body, the bladder can be retrained. If you are going to the toilet too often at the moment, doctors would advise bladder retraining to teach your bladder how to hold more urine and become less sensitive over time.

‘On average, it is recommended that an individual should pass urine every 3 hours (or four to seven times per day).’

There are a few simple things Dr Kandi recommends for anyone looking to get their old bladder tolerance back….

 Keep a diary 

‘For the first day just monitor how often you go to the toilet. This is so you have a baseline and understanding of your current situation. Going forward, keep an eye on how the situation improves by jotting down how long you can hold between each go.’

Don’t rush to the toilet

‘When you get the initial urge to pass urine, don’t respond straight away. Firstly, see how long you can hold it and then build on that by adding 15 minutes each time. Remember the aim is to leave at least 3 hours between each trip to urinate.’ 

Use distraction and delay techniques 

‘Cross your legs, complete a report or cook some lunch. Find ways (and be creative) to trick your mind.’

Practice Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises

‘This helps strengthen your bladder’s holding power. There is a great NHS app called “Squeezy” or you can read more on NHS website.’

Drink water

‘Although it sounds counterintuitive, you must remember that you are retraining your muscles and you cannot do this without fluid.  Continue to drink your recommended 2-3 litres per day as this also prevents you from becoming dehydrated and your urine from being too concentrated which can cause other urinary problems like stones and infection.’

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