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There is a Wrong Way to Poop and Pee?!

Do you remember how you were taught to poop and pee when you were potty trained? Yea, I don’t either! Most of us were probably not taught how; we just figured it out. Pooping and peeing with correct technique is ESSENTIAL for a happy pelvic floor. And yes, you can poop and pee with incorrect or poor technique. Shocking, I know! Let’s figure out if you are pooping and peeing correctly and discuss what you can change if you’re not!

Common Peeing Mistakes

Let’s talk peeing first. Here are some common peeing technique mistakes:

  • Power peeing = pushing your pee out
  • Doing “just in case” pees
  • Hovering over the toilet (yes – this includes when in public bathrooms)
  • Going more often than every 2 hours
  • Waking up more than 1 time per night to pee

How we urinate is a coordinated cascade of signals between our brain, bladder, and pelvic floor. Anytime we disrupt those signals, such as pushing our pee out (AKA power peeing), it can create issues with emptying the bladder.

Our bladder is SUPER trainable, both with good habits and with bad habits. If you pee too often (such as doing a bunch of “just in case” pees), your bladder will think you HAVE to empty that often. Additionally, you may end up accidentally creating triggers for yourself. For example, if you always use the bathroom immediately after you get home after work, your bladder will think that’s always when you have to go. You may get an urge to pee every time you get home, even if there isn’t much pee in your bladder.

How to Correctly Pee

So what is normal for peeing? You should be peeing every 2 to 4 hours during the day and 0 to 1 times at night. Try to use the bathroom in that range if you can.

Here are some technique tips:

  1. Wait to use the bathroom until you have an urge to pee. No “just in case” pees! Most likely there is a bathroom wherever you will be – just wait for your bladder to tell you to go. If you are getting strong urges to pee more often than every 2 hours, check out this blog post to learn how to fix that.
  2. Fully sit on the toilet. Do not hover even if you’re in a public bathroom. Place a toilet seat cover or toilet paper over the toilet seat if you’re concerned about germs or cleanliness. It’s hard for your pelvic floor muscles to relax enough to pee if you are not fully sitting.
  3. Relax and let your pee come out. (These are the exact words I used when I potty trained both of my kids!) Our pelvic floor muscles need to relax in order for our bladder to push the pee out. Yes – it is our BLADDER that pushes the pee out (and we have zero active control of the bladder itself). Don’t push your pee out!

Common Pooping Mistakes

As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I talk about poop a lot with my clients. It’s surprising how many people do not have a great pooping technique! Do any of these common pooping mistakes sound like your recent bathrooming experience?

  • Holding your breath and straining to poop
  • Sitting on the toilet for more than 5 minutes
  • Going less often than 3 times per week
  • Sitting very upright on the toilet
  • Having poop that is NOT type 3 or 4 (see the Bristol Stool Chart below)
Bristol Stool Chart
Spoiler: If your poop consistency is not type 3 or 4 (the normal consistencies), it could be a diet/GI issue OR it could actually be a pelvic floor issue!

How to Correctly Poop

What’s normal for pooping? You should be pooping anywhere from 3 times per day to 3 times per week. It should be type 3 or 4 (see the chart above), and you shouldn’t have to push hard or strain to get it out. Pooping should be a relatively fast process (I’m talking like only a couple minutes on the toilet).

Seriously, trust me. You’re going to want to take note of these pooping pointers. It’s amazing how much they can change your pooping experience! Here is how to correctly poop:

  1. Place your feet up on a squatty potty and lean forward so your elbows are resting on your thighs. Yes – the squatty potty lives up to the hype! It places your pelvic floor muscles in a position where they can relax more easily. It also aligns the end of your colon a bit better so it’s more of a straight shot out versus closer to a right angle. If you don’t have a squatty potty, use a stool, box, or small garbage can flipped on its side.
  2. Relax and take some deep breaths to get things moving. Do not hold your breath and strain to get things moving. That puts a lot of extra pressure down onto your pelvic floor! Your pelvic floor muscles have to RELAX first in order for stool to pass.
  3. Blow as you go! When you feel the urge to poop, breathe out as you GENTLY bear down. Think of exhaling like you’re blowing out birthday candles. Again, if you hold your breath while bearing down, it increases your core pressure by 2 to 3 times and can put too much pressure down onto your pelvic floor muscles.
  4. If nothing has happened after sitting on the toilet for 5 minutes, get up and try again later. It’s not great for your pelvic floor muscles to sit on the toilet for long periods of time. I’m also talking to those of you who sit on the toilet just scrolling on your phone! “Are you putzing or pooping?” is what you’ll hear me say to both of my kids… and my husband… when they are sitting too long on the toilet. (Putzing – is that just a word we Wisconsinites say?)

Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Pooping and Peeing Edition

If you’re using spot on technique with your bathrooming and still having some issues, then you may have some other things impacting your ability to easily and correctly poop and pee. One major job of our pelvic floor muscles is to provide sphincter control around all of our openings. If those muscles are not functioning well, they may have difficulty letting things out or keeping things in.

Here are some signs of pelvic floor dysfunction that show up as pooping and peeing symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Needing to strain to poop
  • Feeling like you are wiping a ton after bowel movements
  • Difficulty either holding gas in or letting gas go
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying with bladder or bowels
  • Strong urges to pee with or without leaking
  • Getting the urge to pee more often than every 2 hours
  • Difficulty starting your urine stream once you’re sitting on the toilet
  • Leaking any amount with any activity

If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, contact a pelvic floor physical therapist to get things addressed. Pooping, peeing, and the pelvic floor are closely linked! Fixing one will in turn help the other!

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