People consider addressing behavior when their choices lead to unwanted consequences. Eating too many sugary sweets today may lead to kidney disease tomorrow. That extra glass of wine can result in you wetting your pants by morning. And dehydration can lead to constipation. In order to improve your condition, you must decide to change behaviors and replace good habits with bad ones.
You can change or modify bladder behaviors and remove stress from your body to promote better bladder health. Still, more research is needed as current research is limited on the effectiveness of retraining your bladder to behave. And some treatment techniques appear more effective than others.
We’ve discussed whether lifestyle changes are enough to keep you dry in a previous blog. Now, let’s explore ways to retrain your bladder to eliminate urinary incontinence.
1. Drink more water to avoid bladder irritants.
Drinking more water will increase the total volume of water in your body, which will reduce concentrated urine in your bladder. This helps to avoid irritating the inner lining of the bladder wall and will increase your fluid output. Concentrated urine can make you feel like you need to go even more, even if your bladder is not full. And look for education on appropriate diets to decrease urinary urge sensations.
2. Extend urination intervals.
It would be best to urinate 6-8 times a day or every 3-4 hours. This frequency is necessary for your body to flush out toxins naturally. With urge urinary incontinence and urinary frequency, you may run to the bathroom 10+ times a day whether you need to or not! Once you eliminate all irritants to your bladder, you can begin to extend the interval time between urination. If you find that you have to urinate every 30-minutes, use urge suppression techniques to help you reach the 35-minute mark. Then work your way up to 40-minutes, then 45-minutes until you progressively make it to 3-4 hour intervals.
3. Use urge suppression techniques to reduce urinary urgency.
There are techniques available to help you reduce your urgency. The following are a few you can use to help. Complete pelvic floor contractions to send messages to your bladder to quiet and relax. If your urgency problem is related to an overactive pelvic floor, then taking deep belly breaths will help relax the pelvic floor muscles. This will help to avoid sending mixed signals to the bladder. Incorporate visualization exercises to imagine being somewhere else and distract yourself from thinking about using the restroom. Positive self-talk can help, too. Repeat to yourself – you are in complete control.
4. Resist going to the bathroom ‘just in case.’
The urge to urinate can be strong, but you want to begin teaching yourself control and not rush to the bathroom. Upon sensing the need to pee, take a deep breath and try to relax. Get up slowly from sitting or getting out of bed, then take your time to walk to the bathroom. If at any point you feel you are going to lose control, stop and sit if you need to. Then contract your pelvic floor muscles to reduce your urge sensation. Once you reach the toilet, stand over the toilet while still in control, begin unbuttoning or unzipping your clothes, and relieve yourself once you are in position and undressed.
5. Find a schedule and stick to it.
Get your bladder on a schedule and stick with the same routines. As you eliminate bladder irritants and plan your food and drink schedule, you’ll be able to predict when you will need to use the restroom. Knowing your bladder habits, you can plan to be near bathrooms or schedule yourself to void at specific times to avoid accidents.
Please consult with your doctor or physical therapist if symptoms persist. Most people may get better when incorporating these better bladder behaviors. If you are missing one piece to the puzzle that is your problem, one of our pelvic health physical therapists can help you find it.