Pain with urination is incredibly frustrating!! It hurts but you have to pee and holding it doesn’t help. You need something to help now… not in a few days when you finally get in to the doctor.
Here are a few tips to help reduce pain while you're waiting to see the doc:
1. Get checked for UTI or STI. If you have new pain with urination and haven’t seen your physician yet… make that call. If you have a UTI or STI, these other tips won’t resolve it and not getting appropriate treatment could result in worsening symptoms including sepsis and hospitalization. Infections need to be treated by a physician or other provider qualified to test for and treat these conditions.
But… if you’ve been there, done that, and everything was negative… keep on reading:
2. Increase your water intake. There’s no magic amount of water you should drink. I’ve heard 8 glasses per day, half your body weight in ounces, and other options. The truth is, we don’t know and the amount I drink is going to be different than the amount you drink. If you’re thirsty, fatigued, constipated, or you have dry skin and/or lips… you’re not drinking enough water.
3. Meditate. You can try it while you’re on the toilet (convenient and task-specific!) or just make it a regular practice in your day. Meditation helps calm the nervous system and muscle tension throughout the body. That includes the pelvic floor muscles! If you’re stressed, anxious, or tense then it’s hard to let those muscles relax for urination, resulting in pushing to pee through a narrowed urethra and burning.
4. Deep breathing. Breathing works in a very similar way as meditation. The “fight or flight” of the sympathetic nervous system is calmed and parasympathetic “rest and digest” is increased. This allows the pelvic floor muscles to relax and urine to flow freely. A great way to tell if you are breathing deeply (into the lower lobes of the lungs) is to place your hands on your lower ribs. When you breathe in you should fill the ribs widen into your hands. When you breath out the ribs narrow and pull away from your hands. Just remember not to force the breath, it should be a casual breath.
5. Track bladder irritants. You may find that certain drinks or foods lead to an irritation of the bladder lining and pain with urination. The drinks which are highest in sugar, carbonation, and/or acidity: alcohol, coffee, tea and juice. Common food triggers are chocolate, tomatoes, apples, and milk products. Everyone’s triggers are different. I once had a patient who had pain every time she ate baked potatoes. Even without toppings! She switched to sweet potatoes and the pain resolved. Keeping a food diary or talking with your pelvic health PT can be helpful to determine which drink/food is the culprit.
6. Pelvic floor relaxation. This can be done a variety of ways but a great technique to improve pelvic floor mobility and muscle length is via the supine butterfly stretch or happy baby yoga pose. These poses promote relaxation and lengthening of the pelvic floor which decreases pressure on the urethra and allows you to pee without pain.
Supine Butterfly Stretch
Happy Baby Modified (above) and Happy Baby (below)
7. Find a pelvic health PT. You’re not sure where to start with food tracking or you don’t know if the happy baby pose is working. That’s okay! It may not be the right option for you or you may need a professional’s help to create a program just for you. An experienced pelvic health physical therapist will work with you to identify your triggers whether they are due to dietary irritants, stress, pregnancy, medication, surgery, change in workouts, or other factors. We will come up with an individualized plan specific to your needs so you can get rid of pain.
I hope these tips provide you with the relief you need, and if these don’t do the trick, refer to number seven ;).
Next week: Urinary frequency and Why peeing every time you pass a bathroom isn’t healthy