When you’ve gotta go: Tips for that pesky bladder

Does this sound familiar?

  • Visiting the bathroom more often than every 2 hours and waking at night to empty your bladder
  • Keeping a change of clothes in case you have an accident
  • Inside knowledge of  restroom locations on the way to work, in the mall and grocery stores
  • Bladder leakage with a strong urge OR having enough close calls to make you worry you will leak
  • Shying away from movies or other social events due to fear of leakage

If this sounds like you, you may have bladder urgency or overactive bladder symptoms.

Normal bladder function

Urgency is defined by the International Continence society as “ Urgency, with or without urge incontinence, usually with frequency and nocturia, can be described as the overactive bladder syndrome, urge syndrome or urgency-frequency syndrome.”1  In addition people may experience a fear of leakage associated with the urgency contributing to frequency trips to the bathroom to void.  

In 2012 the AUA ( American Urological Association) published guidelines for treatment of overactive bladder symptoms.2  The first line of treatment recommended is behavioral therapies which includes bladder retraining, bladder control methods, pelvic floor muscle retraining and fluid management.  These are all strategies and methods we use to help our patients with overactive bladder symptoms.  Take a look at a few tips below to help you regain control over your bladder to help you live the life you want without your bladder getting in the way!


  1. Drink Water! It is recommended to consume up to 6-8 glasses of water per day.   The bladder can hold up to 2 cups of urine before it is time to empty.  Drinking water helps keep your body hydrated and reduces irritation to the bladder and reduced urgency.


2. Avoid bladder irritants: Consuming soda, coffee, teas, alcohol, acid foods and drinks and even chocolate can irritate the bladder and contribute to urgency.   

3. Pelvic floor retraining: The pelvic floor muscles help control urinary continence by squeezing around the urethra to stop leakage.  In addition, pelvic floor muscle contractions can help inhibit or stop bladder spasms through a reflex via the spinal cord and reduce the urgency sensation.  Keeping your pelvic floor muscles flexible, strong and well coordinated reduces urgency and frequency.

4. Bladder retraining:  Timed voiding can help retrain your bladder to void on a schedule so that you can take control of when you empty your bladder.  Working with your therapist to develop the ideal voiding schedule will empower you to return to your daily activities and social events with confidence and reduce the time spent rushing to the toilet during the day and night.


5. Take your Time: Avoid rushing to the bathroom when you feel the urge to void.  Rushing initiates the flight or fight mode ( sympathetic nervous system) in your nervous system which increases bladder spasms and the urge to void.  Slow down, take a few diaphragmatic breaths, and slowly walk to the toilet to empty your bladder.  You may find that just taking 3 or 4 breaths can reduce your urgency and your need to void!


6. Maintain a healthy weight: Reducing the amount of abdominal weight decreases the physical stress and pressure on the bladder, decreasing the urge to void.  Aim for 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, most days of the week, at a moderate intensity.  Walking, biking, dancing, gardening, swimming, yoga, running or Tai Chi are just some of the ways to exercise.  Ask your physical therapist which form of aerobic exercise is the best for you.  

7. Stay Positive!  With some simple changes to your fluid intake, daily activities and a positive outlook you will get back to all your daily activities and social events without a thought about your bladder.

Call Carolina Pelvic Health Center, Inc. today @ 919-571-9912 to schedule your free consult and to learn more about how we can help your regain control of your bladder instead of your bladder controlling you.  

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