Tips on Bladder Training

A normal bladder can hold around 8 ounces before most people feel a strong desire to urinate and can hold close to 20 ounces before most people must urinate. The urge to urinate is controlled by many factors including how much we drink, medical problems, infections, medications or underlying bladder issues. Unfortunately, some people feel the constant urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full. If you urinate frequently when the bladder is not full over time the bladder may learn to hold less urine. Symptoms of urinary urgency and frequency can be very disruptive to ones life, but you may be reinforcing these symptoms by voiding frequently. One strategy to help reverse urinary frequency and urgency is with bladder training.

Things to consider before starting bladder training 

The bladder is the most trainable organ in your body and if you don’t believe me then ask a three-year-old. Bladder training is the process by which you train your bladder to increase the time between the initial feeling to urinate and the time you actually urinate. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it actually works. The first step is to rule out the presence of a bladder infection. You should also speak with your doctor about medical conditions, medication side effects, bladder irritants or behaviors that impact urine production. 

Conditions that impact urine production includes: 

  • Diabetes Mellitus 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Kidney problems 
  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Chronic Leg Swelling 
  • Drinking large volumes of fluid 
  • Caffeine consumption 
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Diuretics or medications used to treat high blood pressure 

Bladder training technique 

  • Complete a voiding diary for 24 hours to help you determine the minimal amount of time that you can hold your bladder without urinating and document the volume of fluids you consume daily
  • Day 1-3: After you wake up. Empty your bladder every hour (even if you don’t need to). Example: If you wake up at 7 am, use the bathroom at 7am, and wait until 8 am to urinate again. At 8am, urinate whether you feel you need to or not
  • Day 4-6: Now increase the amount of time between voids to every 1 ½ hours. Use the bathroom at night if needed
  • Day 7-9: Increase the amount of time to 2 hours between voids
  • Day 10-12: Increase the amount of time to 2 ½ hours between voids
  • Goal: Continue to increase your time between voids from to 3 ½ hours

Tips for success 

  • Document your schedule using a voiding diary 
  • Use a timer to remind you
  • If increasing by ½ hour is too difficult, increase your time by 15 minutes or less
  • Don’t increase to the next level until you are comfortable with the schedule
  • If you are having trouble suppressing the urge to urinate then 10 quick contractions of the pelvic floor muscles also known as Kegels can help you suppress the urge to urinate
  • It may take a few weeks to reverse urinary frequency and urgency with bladder training but be positive and keep in mind that the bladder is the most trainable organ in the body

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