What your bathroom habits might be telling you
Melbourne GP, Dr. Preeya Alexander, thinks we should be paying more attention to what happens in the bathroom. Taking a look at our urine, specifically. Our wee can say a lot about our general health and could give you a warning sign that it’s time to visit a doctor.
We tend to worry about our wee – a lot. I have a lot of patients who give me some wonderfully intricate details about their toileting habits and in all honesty the nitty gritties can be seriously helpful. Before I even see a patient’s urine or dip it with my ‘wonder stick’ I can deduce a lot about their health from their toilet bowl stories.
So what does the state of your wee really tell me about your health?
“My wee is so dark and smelly”
Your urine colour is one of the easiest ways to assess how hydrated you are. If you don’t drink enough fluid and your body is dehydrated you will filter less through your kidneys and end up with potent smelly concentrated urine. We’ve all been there after a long day at the beach or a music festival. Take this is a sign that you need to bump up the water intake, aiming for over 1 litre per day. On the flip side if your urine is light with no odour you can probably relax and know you’re getting enough fluid in. High five for hydration.
“I’ve noticed blood in my wee”
This one normally deserves a visit to the doctor. Most commonly women mistake menstrual blood as being in their urine but if you just don’t know, its time for a visit to the GP. There are loads of things that can cause blood in the urine – from a simple urinary tract infection (UTI) to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia to much rarer kidney issues that cause blood to leak through the filtering membrane. The point is – you need your GP to check it out and start assessing where the blood is coming from.
“It stings when I wee”
If you’ve ever experienced a UTI (and chances are you have) you’ll know that they are far from comfortable. If it stings when you pass urine or you notice you are urinating more frequently than normal, it’s likely time for a visit to the GP. If you have a UTI it means you have a bacteria in your urine tract and you likely need a urine sample sent to the lab (so we can see what the bug is) and a course of antibiotics. Left untreated these infections can get nasty – hello fevers, chills and a kidney infection.
As women we are sitting ducks for UTIs – we have short urine passages (much shorter than men) and during sex or other activities we are more likely to have the wrong bugs pushed up there which causes an infection. Passing urine after every sexual encounter is vital – it pushes the bugs out and reduces your risk of developing a UTI.
“It hurts when I wee”
Painful urination can be a sign of sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia. Chlamydia is the most common STI in Australia and every male and female under 30 should be getting a yearly test– if your GP doesn’t offer it to you raise it yourself – it’s as easy as putting some urine in a jar! And you want to know if you have this infection- trust me, if left untreated it can cause infertility and serious infections like pelvic inflammatory disease.
“I’m weeing may more than normal”
This can be due to many things – a urinary tract infection or something more serious like undiagnosed diabetes. Otherwise, you might be pregnant and hello to 9 months of living in the bathroom! If you notice you are constantly urinating more than your baseline- time for a trip to your local urine expert, the GP. More than likely, it could come down to you drinking more water or drinking too much tea or coffee but it’s best left to the experts.
As you can tell, your urine can tell you a lot about your health. There are so many other important types of urine changes I haven’t mentioned (like frothy or coke coloured urine) but the truth is if you are ever worried get it checked out by the GP – a simple dipstick test of your urine might be all you need!
So next time you close the bathroom door have peek in the bowl, you just might be surprised by what you see!
Dr Preeya Alexander is a General Practitioner working in Melbourne. She is passionate about preventative health and believes strongly in educating patients so they have the tools needed to drive their own positive health changes. Preeya health blog, the Wholesome Doctor, covers a range of issues from nutrition and weight management to pregnancy and child health. Preeya can be followed on Instagram (@thewholesomedoctor).