Retraining Your Bladder
If you’re getting urgent messages from your bladder even though you know it isn’t full, you could have urge incontinence. You can re-establish control over those urges by retraining your bladder.
The average man’s bladder can hold 350 ml to 550 ml of urine. Generally, a man feels like he needs to urinate when there is about 200 ml of urine in his bladder.But with urge incontinence, bladder muscles contract inappropriately causing a sudden and urgent need to urinate. Often these contractions occur regardless of the amount of urine that’s in the bladder.
In many cases you can train your bladder to empty at the appropriate times. Bladder retraining is a technique that makes you aware of incontinence and urgency patterns then helps you relearn the skills necessary for proper emptying.
Through retraining, you gradually increase the amount of time between urinations by resisting the first urge to go and waiting until a scheduled time. The length of time between trips to the bathroom is increased until the urge can be held off for several hours.
Not only does bladder retraining lengthen the amount of time between bathroom trips, but it can also increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold, as well as improve your control over the urge to urinate.
Your healthcare provider can help you develop a program suited to your specific needs and circumstances but a typical program might include the following approach:
Start by keeping a bathroom journal. The journal is a key retraining tool for tracking your bladder’s behavior. You record bathroom visits, frequency, fluid/food intake, degrees of urgency and incidents of incontinence. Doing so reveals patterns and identifies triggers. [url http://www.depend.com/files/bathroom_journal.pdf]Download our Bathroom Journal template right here[/url].
Establish intervals for voiding. For example, if your journal shows a pattern of bathroom visits every 40 minutes you might start by establishing intervals of 50 minutes. The key is to postpone urination and use the bathroom at the established time, even when you don’t feel the urge.
Use a timer. Set the alarm on your watch or smart phone to help track your established intervals and keep you on your retraining schedule.
Adopt techniques for resisting the urge. If the urge to urinate comes sooner than the established intervals, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing until the urge passes. You can also try tightening your pelvic floor muscles. The goal is to try and wait until the scheduled urination time.
Stretch your intervals. Once it becomes easy to hold your bladder until scheduled breaks, it’s time to increase the wait. Gradually, you’ll increase the time between bathroom trips until you are urinating every 3 hours. At times, intervals may be longer or shorter and that’s perfectly fine. The overall progress you make over the course of retraining will be evident.
Occasionally, electrical stimulation and biofeedback therapy may also be used along with bladder retraining.
Personal Training From the Inside
As with any physical challenge, bladder retraining requires a commitment in time and effort—a typical retraining program can span four to six weeks—but the benefits can be well worth it. Although it may take up to three months before the bladder is fully retrained, many people notice improvements within the first few weeks.
Talk to your doctor to determine the right retraining program that will shore up your bladder and your confidence.