Doormat syndrome: why do we often want to urinate when we arrive home?

It is called the “doormat syndrome” or “the key in the lock”. This strange phenomenon manifests itself in a sudden urge to urinate the moment one arrives in front of one’s front door. How to explain it? Response elements.

Each time, it’s the same story: when you arrive at your front door, you are caught by a sudden and irrepressible urge to urinate. The desire is such that urinary leakage is never far away. Yet, a few minutes before, you did not feel this need. This is called the “doormat syndrome” or the “key in the lock”. How can we explain this strange phenomenon?

What is doormat syndrome?

Normally, when the bladder is full, a message is sent to the brain to trigger urination. The bladder muscle then contracts in order to evacuate the urine. In the case of doormat syndrome, there is “a neurological programming error”, explains physiotherapist Major Mouvement in a recent Instagram post.

The message is therefore sent at the wrong time, because of the vision of the front door. “The simple fact of taking a look at an object that we associate with action can trigger the brain process and cause a more urgent need to experience it – all in an unconscious way, “American psychotherapist Ginnie Love explained to Shape magazine in 2016.

It is therefore what is called a Pavlovian reflex, in other words, a “conditioned reflex”, which is triggered in a person accustomed to reacting in a precise way to a stimulus. By dint of getting into the habit of urinating as soon as you get home, you finally feel like you want to go to the toilet at that time when this is not the case.

As a result, a vicious circle sets in. “Over time, if you keep giving in to your bladder instead of letting your brain take control, you could start to leak,” Dr. May M. Wakamatsu, a urogynecologist and director of the department of women’s pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Shape.

Doormat syndrome: how to fight against this urge to urinate?

This phenomenon could be due to an overactive bladder, as indicated by Dr. Sandip Vasada, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic in 2020 to the American magazine Health. This disorder is characterized in particular by sudden and irrepressible urge to urinate, called “urgenturias”.

To combat doormat syndrome, it is necessary to decondition. To do this, it is advisable at first to “calm down, take a deep breath, then think about something else”, suggested to Slate Grégoire Capon, responsible for neuro-urology and pelvic-perinatology activities at the Bordeaux University Hospital. Next step: divert your attention from the urge to urinate: “Start preparing dinner as soon as you get home or open the mail to change your mind”, recommended for example Dr. May M. Wakamatsu.

Another solution is to empty your bladder before you set off to go home because it takes about three to four hours to fill up. An urge to urinate occurring too soon after going to the toilet is proof that it is a false signal.

Contracting the perineum is also effective in combating doormat syndrome. To achieve this, it is advisable to strengthen this set of muscles located between the genitals and the anus. “Strengthening the perineum allows both to prevent urinary leakage but also to send a message of inhibition to the detrusor”, which is none other than the muscle of the bladder, says Major Mouvement on Instagram.

If the problem of doormat syndrome persists, it is advisable to consult a urologist, a gynecologist, a midwife, or a physiotherapist.

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