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Published on June 15, 2020

Retraining Your Bladder for Controlling Urinary Urgency and Frequency

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Bladder function is controlled by the brain, nervous system and muscles of the pelvic floor. In a normal bladder, as the bladder fills with urine, the pressure within the urethra (the tube that allows urine to empty from the bladder) remains high and prevents leakage. Once the bladder has filled, a message is sent to the brain, the muscle of the urethra relaxes, the bladder contacts and urination occurs.

Because of the fear of leaking urine, many women have learned to rush immediately to the restroom when this urge occurs even though there may be very little urine in the bladder. As a result, over time of responding to this urge to urinate, the bladder overrides the brains ability to control normal urination.

Bladder retraining teaches you to restore a normal pattern of voiding by increasing bladder capacity, controlling bladder urges, and eliminating the desire for frequent voiding. The goal is for you to void no more than every 2-4 hours without leaking by allowing your brain to take control of your bladder.

How to Start

  1. Eliminate bladder irritants: Coffee, tea, carbonation, alcohol, chocolate, tomatoes, acidic fruits and juices and artificial sweeteners.
  2. Drink at least 1 quart of water per day – gradually increasing to 2 quarts per day. This will keep your urine more dilute and not as irritating to the bladder walls.
  3. When you get the urge to go, try to hold it for an extra 5 minutes. Keep a bladder diary to monitor your progress. Increase holding time by 5 minutes per week.
  4. Learn to relax when the strong urge arises by slow, deep breathing. The urge pattern starts as a slight sensation, grows, peaks then subsides. It is the peak of your urge that you want to try and distract yourself by deep breathing.

Tips for Success

  1. Believe you will be successful
  2. Avoid drinking anything after 6:00 PM, if you get up frequently at night to urinate.
  3. Go to the toilet and empty your bladder first thing in the morning.
  4. Walk slowly to the bathroom – rushing, running, or any other fast movement will jar the bladder exacerbating the urgency and possibly causing leakages.
  5. Do not urinate before you get the urge.
  6. Use deep breathing to distract and relax your bladder. An example is  when you have the key in the front door and all of a sudden a strong urge hits. This is the moment to stop unlocking the door, relax and take 3-4 slow, deep breaths until the urge lessens or passes. Then unlock the door and proceed SLOWLY to the restroom.

REMEMBER – It has taken years to get to this condition, so it may take up to 2-3 months to see an improvement.

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