How to Completely Empty Your Bladder in One Trip to the Bathroom
Although I no longer work in the medical field, I want to note that while this article may seem like medical advice, it really is not.
It is not meant to replace your doctor's medical advice.
Always consult your physician first. After following your treatment plan, if you find that you are still getting up alot during the night, you may want to follow the steps in this article. Don't be surprised if you find that you want to share your results (and this method) with your doctor—and please do.
What you will read in this article is what has worked for me—and countless others with whom I have shared this method—for the last 30+ years. I know it will work for you, but please don't replace your doctor's advice with anything you read here. You can use this method in addition to your doctor's treatment plans and you will have no side effects.
With this lifestyle change, I promise that you will have fewer trips to the bathroom (day and night) and less chance of urinary tract infections (UTI's).
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What Can Cause Frequent Urination?
Recurrent UTI's are very annoying.
Frequently getting up during the night to urinate is annoying, too. Although this is usually caused by some type of infection, the good news is that your symptoms won't always be due to a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Sometimes it's just because of the bad habits we develop—holding urine in, not wanting to use a public bathroom (or someone else's bathroom), body positioning, frequently using over-the-counter sanitary wipes to cleanse, or maybe some unusual health habits (e.g. incorrect wiping, unclean hands, or even no wiping).
Assuming your doctor has ruled out other causes for your frequent urination, such as kidney disease, dropped bladder, UTI, cystitis, kidney diseases, etc., I may have some useful suggestions for you.
Out of Desperation Came Relief
A Good Night's Sleep
Because I have multiple sclerosis, all my urine didn't always come out completely each time. I would no sooner get back in bed and minutes later would feel the urge to run to the bathroom again. As shown to me on my ultrasound, sometimes as much as two tablespoons would remain in the bladder, stubborn to come out, which led to more trips to the bathroom than desired.
Because of this lack of output, the offered remedy was to use self-catheterization several times per day and night so that my bladder would be completely empty. Sometimes, the time and place just weren't convenient.
I was always tired because of getting up 6 to 8 times a night to go to the bathroom. Something had to change.
Sometimes the residual urine caused a urinary tract infection, and I had to take more prescriptions, which I'm not a fan of.
Thirty or more years ago, when I learned to use ergonomics to go to the bathroom, it was so I wouldn't have to self-catheterize. There was always a risk of getting more infections from self-catheterizing, not because it was unclean, but because it was invasive, often scraping the urethra and causing irritation (no matter how much lubricant was used).
This method was the answer to my prayers. All I wanted was to get a good night's sleep.
My Own Personal Method
Before you begin: For both males and females—always sit down on the toilet. That, and proper body positioning, is the only way this method will work effectively. Relax and be patient with each step. As you are sitting in your chair reading this article, do the positions so you can get the hang of what your positioning needs to be when on toilet.
- Settle yourself on the toilet, and sit up straight—don't slouch! If your arms are leaning on your knees, sit up!
- Keeping your upper body straight, but not rigid, and with your feet planted about 4 to 6 inches apart, release urine in this erect position. Remember to breathe normally—don't hold your breath.
- When you think your urine stream is done, don't wipe or get up right away. If no urine came out, give it another minute for the urine to adjust to the new positioning.
- Now, keeping your upper body straight, lean slightly forward so that your hips are at about a 15o angle. Relax in this position for 60-90 seconds and allow any additional urine to flow while breathing normally. If your belly touches your legs, you are leaning too far forward.
- Don't forcefully push the urine out. It will come out naturally if you are relaxed and if you breath normally.
- When it seems like you are done, come back to upright position
- Still keeping your upper body straight (not slouching), lean back against the toilet lid like you are going to put your head on a headrest, and let any more urine release. When finished, go back to your center upright position again.
- Now, keeping your upper body straight and erect (not rigid), from your waist only, you want to lean very slightly toward your left side, make like you are reaching for something with your right hand, lifting only your right buttock off the toilet seat about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
- Hold this position for 60 seconds in relax mode while releasing urine and breathing normally. When done, come back to center position.
- Repeat with the other side. Leaning to the right doesn't usually release as much urine as leaning to the left, but do it anyway. Starting from the center again, keeping upper body straight and erect (not rigid), now slightly lean to your right side, make like you are reaching for something with your left hand, lifting only the left buttock up about 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Breathe normally
- Now sit up straight and slightly lean forward one last time for 15 seconds to allow any remaining urine to pass.
- Sit for about 30 seconds in upright center position in case there is any more urine to release. Breathe normally.
- Wipe from front to back with unscented toilet paper.
And you are done!
You should be comfortable for 4-6 hours, barring any excess fluid intake. The first few times you do this, it will take you 5-8 minutes at the toilet. Once you get the hang of it, you will know how long to hold positions for your body size and bladder habits. It will likely take less than 3 or 4 minutes to complete steps.
Be patient. Hurrying through this will mean more trips to the bathroom later because you haven't completely emptied out your bladder.
Uninterrupted, Restful Sleep
Okay, I know after reading the above steps that you may think this method sounds silly and will look absolutely absurd, but who cares? It works!
I moderate several health-related websites, and many people have written to tell me they used to get up to go to the bathroom five or six times during the night, interrupting restful sleep. After I shared this method with them, they wrote back to tell me of their amazement of getting continuous hours of sleep just by following these instructions before going to bed.
If you use this method when you get up in the morning, you can be assured of 4 or more hours of bladder comfort during your waking hours.
During the day, you move around more, and the bladder is more active than at nighttime. I, myself, use this method every single time I go to the bathroom so that I only relieve my bladder four times a day when previously it was 10 to 15 times a day. And, I still drink the same six to eight bottles of water per day, mostly because I have dry mouth from my medications and I need to stay hydrated.
Painful or Burning Urination Can Indicate a Urinary Tract Infection
Ways to Relieve Painful or Burning Sensations
- Usually, drinking more water will help with burning and pain. Stick to bottled or filtered water so you know you are getting pure water with little or no risk of exposure to amoeba, parasites, or chemicals coming from faucet water.
- Cranberry juice or tablets are excellent remedies and have been used for decades. Check with a doctor to make sure it doesn't contradict with any other medication you are taking.
- Some people find relief from cool baths. However, most people agree that it only feels good during the bath. Hey,it is still something that feels good, so do it anyway. Comfort first. Use no additives in the bath water. If you want to use Epsom salts, make sure they are unscented. Lavender is popular, but don't get tempted by the scents.
Any of the above remedies usually needs a companion remedy in order to help relieve any abdominal pain, burning, and discomfort. None will work alone to totally get rid of your symptoms.
To help with the burning, you can also use any over-the-counter (OTC) products (e.g. Cystex, Azo, etc.) However, many doctors will prescribe Pyridium along with antibiotics. If your doctor does not order it, you may want to ask for a prescription for it, especially if your health insurance covers it. Always ask for free samples of any medications your doctor orders for you.
- Pyridium eliminates bladder spasms and that twingy pain while urinating. However, it also turns your urine bright reddish-orange. It will stain your underwear and the toilet bowl, which is why I advise to always spray the bowl after each use with any bleach-based bathroom cleaner. Important: With continuous use, Pyridium can be toxic to the liver and kidneys—but, it is fine if used for two to four days.
- For that reason, doctors usually only order a small number of Pyridium—about 10-12 pills to cover the crucial first two to four days. This is so the patient doesn't overdo it or accidentally misuse the product. Rarely do they allow refills of this medication because a patient can be tempted to self-prescribe every time they feel a twinge.
- Pyridium should always be used along with an antibiotic since it does not get rid of a UTI on its own. It only helps you over the hump when the urinary pain is at its worse. You need an antibiotic (along with lots of water) to flush out the Pyridium and any infection.
Usually, by the second day of a UTI, the antibiotic has kicked in, and Pyridium is no longer needed. If your doctor gives you enough Pyridium for three days, take it for the whole three days. If you stop Pyridium before the antibiotic has had a chance to start working, you will be calling the doctor for a Pyridium refill and will possibly have to endure a second round of antibiotics to kick the UTI.
To determine if you need (or want) Pyridium, for your next UTI, go through treatment using only your prescribed antibiotics and no Pyridium. Keep some notes on how you are feeling and the amount of urine output for those first two days.
Then, for your next UTI, ask your doctor for a three day supply of Pyridium (200 mg tabs is the norm for patients under 200 pounds) and take as prescribed—usually, one every 6 hours, just for the first two days.
Again, keep some notes on pain and urine output—then, compare. I don't think you will have to look at your notes because you will know after the first day of Pyridium that the comfort it provides is far preferable to using antibiotics alone.
Important Note About Medication
A reminder to anyone who takes bladder medications, such as Detrol LA, to restrict urine output and to cut down bathroom visits—I'm talking about the drugs that slow or cut down urine output, not medications, like Lasix, which increase urine output:
- When you get a UTI, the last thing you want to do is restrict urine output.
- Consult your doctor first. Ask if you can discontinue Detrol LA (or similar medication) while you are treating the UTI and resume once you have recovered.
- Detrol LA (and newer drugs like it) restrict the number of times you go to the bathroom as well as the amount of urine output. While on a physician prescribed antibiotic treatment plan for a UTI, ask if it would be best to stop all drugs that cause you to hold or retain urine.
- Always consult your doctor first before you make changes in your medication schedule.
Tips and Suggestions
1. Only Drink Plain Water
The trick to moving UTI's out of your body quickly is to drink plenty of water—not just any liquids—but regular water, preferably bottled or filtered water. By drinking more water—yes, it's true that you will urinate more frequently—but the infection will also move out of your body that much quicker.
- Avoid citrus and 100% juices when treating a UTI—the acid will increase the burning feeling—but others like Hi-C or 10% juices are fine.
- From dinner time onward, try to limit your intake of caffeine (tea, coffee, or energy drinks), juices (any), or alcoholic drinks since they can cause you to urinate more often.
- I know I am saying it a lot but stick to drinking just water—bottled or filtered water (Brita, PUR, etc.). The average is about three 16-ounce bottles, spread out over your day.
- Stop drinking everything about two hours before your bedtime. Make a trip to the bathroom the last thing you do before going to sleep. Use the above ergonomic method and I promise—you will sleep.
- Don't keep a glass of water on your bedside table. Just because it is there, you will be more inclined to drink during the night, causing you to get up more to go to the bathroom.
- If you have dry mouth, keep moistened Q-Tip type swabs in a Ziploc plastic bag on your bedside table to swab the inside of your mouth or your lips, but no water containers. Pre-moistened lemon swabs also are available at your pharmacy.
With Pyridium, if your urination is still burning, painful, and/or intermittent after the first 24 hours of use, it doesn't necessarily mean the medication isn't working. It's more likely because either you are not drinking enough water or you are not taking enough Pyridium. 200mg is recommended if you weigh under 200 pounds, 400mg is recommended if you weigh more than 200 pounds. But you have to drink regular water to keep it moving through your body to numb up the burning sensation.
2. Keep Your Toilet Area Clean
- When done urinating, always wipe from front to back. Make sure you do not use scented toilet paper or use those toilet paper holders that have a freshener or deodorizer inside
- Men—if you see dribbles, blot—don't wipe.
- Always wash your hands after using the toilet.
- If your toilet is stained with Pyridium-laced urine, spray with Lysol or another brand name of bleach. Cover up the toilet paper roll and your hand towels to avoid getting the Lysol spray on them. You would be surprised to see how far powders and aerosol sprays travel onto the very items you are trying to keep free of scents.
These tips will keep the area around your toilet from becoming contaminated with scents. It is just as important to be careful with cleaning these areas as it is to use scent-free toilet paper.
If you use dusting powder or body sprays, I strongly advise you to stop using them. But, if you must, make sure you have underwear on and pulled up, so no powder can find its way inside the pants. Body sprays have no business being sprayed in the genital region, and they will hinder all that hard work you are doing in trying to get well.
If you use body wash in the shower, make sure your genital region is the last place you thoroughly rinse before getting out of the shower. Change the body wash puff at least once a month to avoid accumulating and spreading bacteria.
3. Put the Lid Down When You Flush
Experts say the water vapor and spray from flushing can reach as high as six feet in the air, contaminating toilet paper, towels, and everything else you are trying to keep clean. Why is that lid up anyway? You don't need to watch your duty go down the toilet. Only children feel the need to watch. Put the lid down.
Something else to consider if you want to get well and stay well is your storage areas.
If the only storage space for your only cleaning products is in the bathroom, start looking around for another room or closet near the bathroom. Maybe you can store everything under the kitchen sink and only keep one bottle of spray bleach on the toilet tank or on the floor next to the toilet to use after each toilet use.
If you continue to store your cleaning products in the same area as your toilet paper and tissues, you will never get the full benefits of these suggestions.
4. Reduce or Eliminate Your Exposure to Scents and Cleaners
So many items are scented these days that sometimes, we tend to overlook it.
- We use the air freshener when we exit the bathroom.
- We keep a deodorizer inside the rim of the toilet.
- We use bleach tablets in the tank to keep the bowl and water clean.
- We spray the bathroom just before guests come (and it drifts down to land on the once sanitary toilet paper).
Keep track of the hygienic paper products you use.
- Are your bathroom paper products perfumed?
- Are bathroom paper products (toilet paper, sanitary napkins, individual paper towels) stored in an area where you also store cleaning products?
- Do you use scented feminine products (e.g. douches, sanitary pads, etc.)?
- Do you use body powder? Does it get all over everything when you use it?
- Do you wear nylon clothing close to the skin without a layer of cotton underneath—scented or unscented?
- Do you skip wearing underwear altogether so that your peri-area is right next to your jeans or pants?
- Do you use fabric softeners in your laundry? If so, that means your bathroom towels are scented, and you can transfer that scent to your hands when drying them. For the sake of your health, stop using the dryer sheets, especially during your sick time. Put a roll of paper towel or a box that dispenses paper towel one at a time (Kleenex brand has them 30 to a box).
- Do you use a scented toilet paper holder (with those little crystals inside) that rolls out pleasant smells when someone uses the toilet paper? That scent remains on the toilet paper and your hands when you go to wipe.
- Do you use toilet paper that has a decorative, colored print or funny advertising on the sheets? Some are very pretty, especially holiday art, but the ink can be toxic when in contact with body fluids.
- Do you store your Kleenex facial tissues in the bathroom? Are they near any scented products? Sometimes people will use tissues to wipe when there's no toilet paper.
- If aloe vera is listed as an ingredient on Kleenex or Puffs, it is the same as using scented toilet paper.
Note: If you spray Lysol, perfume, aerosol deodorant, hairspray, or other spray products in the bathroom, cover the toilet paper so you don't transfer the scent to the paper! Cover the guest towels, too.
5. Keep a Food Diary
After scented products, some foods are often the biggest culprit for irritation and infections. I found that cinnamon was my personal culprit. It seemed that when I treated myself to homemade chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake with cinnamon in the crust, or anything that had cinnamon as an ingredient, within a few days I had a urinary tract infection, as verified by a laboratory urinalysis.
It took more than three months for me to figure this out because of the many ingredients in foods. For you, it could be anything from caffeine products to citrus fruits. You have to keep track of your diet to figure it out. Read your labels, keep a food diary—write down everything! See if your UTI trigger is food-related. A food diary is a great way to narrow this down.
6. Empty Your Bladder Before And After Sexual Intercourse
There is nothing worse than frequent urination to put a damper on your sex life.
Even worse is if you get a UTI shortly after having sex—you might blame it on your partner and think you "picked up" something from them.
That might not be so. It might just be a case of poor planning. Use the method in this article before having sex and you will be much more comfortable both right after sex and the morning after.
- Always empty your bladder before sex and, just as importantly, again after sex. Make this a habit! Once you do the method a few times, you will be able to do it in about two minutes total. The first few times, it will take you about 6 to 8 minutes until you get the hang of it.
- Urinating before and after sex helps to eliminate the re-occurrence of that "Oh, I think I'm getting a UTI" feeling the morning after sex. Everyone (male and female) has experienced this at least once.
- There is no sense in treating what you think is a UTI when, in fact, it is just an irritated bladder from sexual intercourse.
- Follow this method, as noted above, drink more water throughout the day after sex, and you should be fine.
Burning Feeling After Sex
Have you ever felt that "twinge" the morning after sexual intercourse?
7. Constipation Can Make You Feel Like You Have a UTI
If you are constipated and are experiencing urinary urgency or retention problems, you might feel that little twinge that makes you think a UTI is starting. However, after you move your bowels, does the twinge goes away?
Make sure what you are feeling is really a UTI brewing and not a result of the following:
- Having to move your bowels
- Relieving yourself before and after sex
- Holding your urine or stool inside, for whatever reason
If you have to go—go. Don't hold it in. Use a diaper or a Johnny or Jane bottle. There are also other remedies mentioned in this article to help you on car rides, especially if you have a driver who won't stop every time you need to go. Have "the talk" with your driver so they understand the importance of your situation!
In the case of constipation or long periods of inactivity, a stool softener may help. A stool softener does not make you go—it just makes it easier to go. Don't be afraid to take one every other day if you notice hard stools. Stool softeners also protect rectum, vagina, and urethra from the irritation of hard stool pressing down on their mucous membranes. Softened stool waiting to evacuate doesn't cause as much pressure on the rectal area as a hard stool.
How To Perform Intermittent Self-Catheterization
- 10 Steps to Self-Catheterization | Shield HealthCare
10 steps with photos on how to perform self-catheterization with an intermittent catheter.
Intermittent Self-Catheterization Is an Alternative Method
Neurogenic bladders often do not empty completely, and that is the reason why most people with multiple sclerosis or other diseases that affect bladder control must self-catheterize.
The first few times you do this will be hit-or-miss until you get to know where your urethra is located in your anatomy.
Men won't have a problem finding their urethra. For women, it's not as easy to find, especially when you are aiming a catheter at it. You have to practice because women come in all shapes and sizes, and it's not in the same spot for each one of us.
The position you assume to self-catheterize can be awkward and, if in the company of others or enlisting aid, it can be embarrassing. But sometimes, you need another set of hands to help you, so don't hesitate to ask a special someone.
Self-catheterization should be viewed as a last resort—you don't want to go there if you don't have to. First, try the ergonomic method at the top of this article for at least a month. If you have to self-catheterize, experiment a little with different positions to find what works best for you. It will certainly require some getting used to also.
Go to next poll. This poll is closed. Polls are left in place so readers can see numbers of votes
How many times do you get up during the night to urinate?
- 51% 1 or 2 times
- 33% 3 to 4 times
- 8% 5 to 6 times
- 8% I get up every hour!!!
This poll is now closed to voting.
Go to next poll
How many times per night do you wake up to urinate?
- 30% 1
- 26% 2
- 20% 3
- 24% 4 or more
This poll is now closed to voting.
Self-Catheterization Has Its Pros and Cons
- Hours of comfort
- More continuous restful sleep during the night
- Less embarrassing moments
- Possibly re-infecting yourself by using less-than-clean conditions and reusing catheters.
- Self-catheters should be used once, and then thrown away. Bedside bags can be re-used but tubing should be discarded after one use to avoid spreading bacteria.
- Cost can be a factor if your insurance doesn't cover the cost.
The new small self-catheterizing devices that are advertised to go in your pocket or purse are ideal when away from home on short outings. However, they can get expensive because you are paying for the convenience. They are about the size of your thumb and come in packs of six. They work only for urine that is on its way out, waiting right down at the exit, not for urine that is actually way up inside the bladder.
If the new small devices are to your liking, use them. Otherwise, using intermittent catheterization with a straight cath has been the age-old practice for patients to feel completely empty.
Using the ergonomic method in this article should eliminate, or cut down, the use of any kind of catheterization.
Please don't give up on the method after a few tries. The times stated on each of the steps are estimates. Adjust the times to what is comfortable for you. If you see results sooner than my times given, alter the method to what works for you. Sometimes people see results sooner than the time estimates I gave, and that's because we are all different in bladder and body sizes.
Catheters vs. Johnny or Jane Bottles
At some point, many people who aren't able to go to the bathroom on their own will find the urine just trickled out by itself, leaving them wet. You need to find ways to keep dry. Many patients resign themselves to the fact that they need a catheter in place all the time. Catheters can be intra-urethral or super-pubic (inserted through a tube in the belly).
Some people find that having a catheter in place during a long car ride, plane ride, etc. assisted by a leg or belly bag can be most comfortable and reduce bathroom stops, thus making the driver happy. A Johnny or Jane bottle is also good to keep handy.
As for sleeping, catheters connected to a bed bag (drop bag), will most certainly eliminate bathroom trips and allow for a full restful night's sleep.
I use a bed bag every time I get a UTI so that I don't have to get up and run to the bathroom only to find a few painful drops have eeked out. A catheter is very helpful during treatment of a UTI. I usually use it for two nights—then, I go back to my ergonomic method above.
Restful sleep is paramount when you are sick like that. You can choose to take the catheter out each morning but it's best to leave it in for the whole two days/nights.
How many times do you get up during the night to urinate?
Please choose an answer that applies
Since reading this article, I have or will limited my use of printed and/or scented toilet paper (or scented toilet paper holders), scented sprays.
Remember—if you like scented toilet paper and want to keep it in your bathroom, then just put it out when you have company or for the holidays.
Keep a separate, unscented, and unprinted roll for yourself. Don't share it with anyone and put it away when you are done using it so it doesn't stay in the bathroom. Again, do not store it where it can come in contact with sprays, powders, soaps, air fresheners, cleaning fluids, etc.
If you visit other people's houses and are not sure of what kind of toilet paper they have, keep a supply of unscented tissues in your pocket or purse (in a plastic bag, if possible).
Tissues can serve the same purpose as toilet paper and are far safer than taking a chance on what kind of paper is being supplied in other people's homes. Check tissue label for aloe vera content and other moisturizing additives—you want plain, unscented, and untreated tissues or toilet paper.
I hope you find some useful information here. Leave a comment about your experience or results. Thank you for answering the polls. This genuinely helps others to know they are not alone in this battle.
Questions and comments are welcomed.
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