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It's Time to Talk About ‘Peehavior’ & Bladder Health

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

When it comes to having to pee, 86 percent of women admit to this

The bladder is one of those body parts you don’t really think about until it’s too late. It’s all fine and dandy until you have to pee — like, now — or something starts to hurt.

And this doesn’t really change with age. In fact, according to a new study called Peehavior, 62 percent of women aged 40 to 65 don’t think about their bladder health at all. But since November is Bladder Health Month, this seemed like the ideal time to change that.

More: I Have a Common Bladder Condition No One Talks About, & It's Taking Over My Life

To start with, a whopping 86 percent of women surveyed said they have peed somewhere other than a bathroom, the most common location being behind bushes (the pee spot of choice for 19 percent of them). Other makeshift toilets include: In the woods (17 percent), the roadside (16 percent), in a parking lot (7 percent), in their pants (7 percent), in the ocean (6 percent) and in the car (5 percent).

We also don’t like to talk about it: 39 percent of the women surveyed reported they do not confide in anyone with regard to frequent visits to the bathroom to pee. But given how much we take our bladders for granted, this is hardly surprising.

“Going to the bathroom is such a natural process that it’s often easy to overlook any signs and signals that your body is giving you,” says Dr. Ekene Enemchukwu, a pelvic medicine specialist and urologic surgeon.

More: Why It's Time for a Women's Bladder Health Revolution

She says it’s especially important to pay close attention to your bladder so you know when things start to feel off. For instance, if you find yourself running to the bathroom urgently and frequently – like, eight or more times a day — this is not normal and could be a symptom of overactive bladder.

The aim of Peehavior is to provide an inside look into women’s bladder health and bathroom usage in order to get a better understanding of the scope of the related medical conditions like overactive bladder. OAB is a chronic condition that affects approximately 46 million adults over 40 years of age in the United States — most of whom are women. Symptoms include the urgent need for frequent urination with the possibility of leakage, Enemchukwu says.

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“Many just cope with symptoms or assume they are a normal part of aging, but they should talk to a health care professional about their symptoms,” she adds.

Not only that, but a recent survey by Always Discreet Boutique found that one in three women have sensitive bladders, so even if there's not an official OAB diagnosis, potential leaks are an issue for a lot of people.

According to Enemchukwu, a few things you can do to help maintain a healthy bladder include:

  • Talking to a doctor about your daily routine to make sure you’re practicing the best habits for your bladder
  • Drinking plenty of water, about eight glasses a day, to make sure you stay hydrated
  • Maintaining a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, but limiting quantities of acidic fruits, such as citrus or pineapple, that may irritate the bladder
  • Doing Kegel exercises to help strengthen muscles that allow for better bladder control
  • Being mindful of stimulants, such as caffeine and tobacco
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