Why You Should Stop Going To The Bathroom 'Just In Case'

It may seem like common sense — after all, parents have been reminding their kids to "go before you leave" for generations. However, if you're going to the bathroom "just in case," you could actually be training your bladder to have to go more and more often. Bethany Henry Clark, PT, DPT, explains on her social media channels that the well-intentioned habit may be doing more harm than good.

The bladder enlarges as it fills up, holding up to 500 mL in women and 700 mL in men (via National Center for Biotechnology Information). In healthy adults, the bladder wall sends a message to the brain as it expands, indicating that it's time to go to the restroom. Babies simply relax their muscles in response to this urge, allowing urine to flow. As we mature and develop the muscles in the pelvic floor, we learn to ignore this impulse until we're ready to empty our bladders.

Going to the bathroom more often can make you have to go more often

As urologist Lamia Gabal explained to Well+Good, going to the bathroom when you don't really have to "can send a message to your brain that this is a correct volume for your bladder to have the sensation of needing to urinate." Over time, you'll start feeling like you have to go with smaller and smaller amounts of urine present in your bladder.

If this advice seems too little, too late, don't worry — you can retrain and support your bladder so you don't need to go as often. Exercises like Kegels can retrain the pelvic floor, allowing it to contract and release comfortably (via Well+Good). In her now-viral post, Clark recommends that you "break the habit" by waiting until you have to go at least two or three times.

It's also important to make sure you empty your bladder fully when you go to the bathroom. Incomplete urination can result in feeling the urge to go with less fluid intake, since your bladder was never really empty to start with (via Yale Medicine). Over time, this can become problematic, especially for men.

The good news is that just as you created the habit of "needing to go," it is possible to retrain the impulse, albeit with some effort. If these changes don't help, reach out to a doctor or pelvic floor specialist for further support.