Physical Therapy

Flush Away Bad Toilet Habits for a Healthier Pelvic Floor

Welcome to a conversation that might just change the way you approach your daily bathroom routine. We often take for granted the seemingly simple act of using the toilet, but what if I told you that your habits in this private space could be silently affecting a crucial part of your body—the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor plays a significant role in supporting vital organs, maintaining bladder and bowel control, and even contributing to sexual function. Yet, many of us engage in habits that unintentionally compromise the health of this essential muscle group. From improper sitting positions to hurried visits, our daily choices can lead to long-term consequences.

Going to the bathroom isn’t something we typically think of, unless an issue pops up. Constipation, urgency, and leakage can lead to daily embarrassment and stress. As a pelvic floor physical therapist, I see patients for bladder and bowel control issues all the time! It’s common, but you don’t have to suffer through it forever. There are lots of steps you can take to rehab your pelvic floor and enjoy stress-free bathroom trips in the future.

In this exploration, we will dive deep into the intricate connection between your toilet habits and the well-being of your pelvic floor. It's time to shine a light on 7 habits that may be putting unnecessary strain on the pelvic floor and discover practical ways to cultivate healthier practices.


Yes, even in a public restroom. Hovering or squatting over a toilet while peeing limits the ability for the pelvic floor to fully relax. A relaxed pelvic floor is essential for correct mechanics with peeing and pooping. This can lead to excessive pressure, resulting in an uneven stream, inability to fully void the bladder, and may even result in dribbling down your leg (not ideal). In order for the bladder to fully void, the pelvic floor muscles must fully relax while the bladder does its’ job to push pee out. If squatting is a long term habit, it can result in an uncoordinated pelvic floor leading to further issues of leaking or even pain! So… put down that sanitary seat cover or toilet paper in public restrooms, take deep breaths, and relax.


Many people develop the habit of peeing "just in case" to avoid potential inconvenience later on. However, this actually trains the bladder to empty prior to it being full. Most bladders can hold up to 500ml and typically begin to feel the need to urinate at about 200-300ml. This is equivalent to counting to about 20-30 seconds while you pee. The flow of urine should not be less than 8 seconds. This is a sign that you are going before you actually need to. So, for those of you who feel like you are constantly running to the bathroom or have a “small bladder,” you may have actually trained your bladder to be more sensitive to filling.

Try riding the wave

When you first feel the urge to go, follow these steps:

  1. Be still
  2. Do 5 quick pelvic floor muscle contractions
  3. Take 3 deep breaths
  4. Distract yourself
  5. Wait

If urge disappears wait until it returns before going to toilet

If urge remains, calmly walk to the toilet while taking deep breaths

Do not rush to the toilet


Pushing, straining or holding your breath while peeing or pooping can cause excess stress on the pelvic floor. While sitting on the toilet, the pelvic floor is in a relaxed and vulnerable state without any support underneath. The relaxed state is important for optimal function, however extra stress can apply pressure that the pelvic floor is not equipped to handle. This can result in pelvic organ prolapse, hemorrhoids or other issues caused by poor management of intraabdominal pressure. Instead, try utilizing a squatty potty to place pelvic organs and rectum in optimal position for easier passage of stool. Sit up tall and take deep breaths while relaxing and allow your body to complete the process without extra strain.


You may see a pattern building here. Stopping mid-stream turns the pelvic floor muscles on while they should be relaxed. Normal events of bladder emptying include: the bladder contracts, then the sphincter and pelvic floor relax. If the pelvic floor contracts mid-stream it can lead to an uncoordinated pelvic floor and abdominal cavity resulting in issues with leaking, urge, and incontinence.


Again, this is similar to straining or holding your breath. Blowing your nose causes an increase in pressure on the pelvic floor while it is in a relaxed state. This can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, hemorrhoids or other issues caused by poor management of intraabdominal pressure. This is an easy one to fix! You guessed it: stop blowing your nose while on the toilet.


This is a big one! Holding the urge to poop can actually cause constipation or incontinence. Did you know that as stool remains in your rectum, it continues to dry out, making it harder to pass? You should have a bowel movement at least 1-2x/day. In other countries 3-4x/day is normal! This shows you that the typical American diet and processed food wrecks havoc on your digestion. Eat at least 35 grams of fiber a day and drink at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Finally: when you initially get the urge to poop, listen!


Last, but not least! Do not stay on the toilet after you’ve finished. I know that for most of us, this is our precious alone time. But, once again, this leads to extra pressure on the pelvic floor while it is in a vulnerable and relaxed state. This can cause dysfunction over time, including pain, altered pressure management and incontinence. Sitting on the toilet too long can also cause increased pressure on your rectum and anus, contributing to hemorrhoid development. So easy fix! You guessed it: get off the toilet as soon as you finish and maybe hang out in the bathroom for a little extra if you need that alone time.


As we navigate through the nuances of toilet habits and pelvic floor health, remember that small changes can make a significant impact. By fostering mindfulness in our daily routines, we not only promote a healthier pelvic floor, but also enhance our overall well-being. So, here's to a future where we approach the bathroom with intention, prioritizing habits that support, rather than strain, the intricate balance of our pelvic floor muscles.

If these at-home tips don’t help, schedule an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist to further assess! If you are in the Boise area or in California, feel free to reach out to us at BlumeHaus Physical Therapy!

Email or Call: or (208) 996-3421

Cheers to a healthier you!

~ Dr. Alina Wright, PT, DPT