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  • Writer's pictureDr Rachel Collins

Control Your Bladder!

I have talked to many women who tell me they go to the bathroom over 10 times a day and say they have to plan their vacations around where the restrooms are due to having strong urges to pee (also known as voiding). We are able to control our bladder and there are many tricks we can do to help reduce those strong urges and be able to live our lives without worrying about where a bathroom is all the time.

Let's start with a little education on our bladder and how it functions. Our bladder is controlled by our brain which sends a signal to the bladder, also called the detrusor, when it needs to contract which will cause the act of voiding. As our bladder starts to fill it will send a message to the brain letting it know that we will need to empty at some point. Sometimes this message can be heard as I need to go right now and will cause a strong urge sensation and increase pressure on the bladder due to increased signals telling it to contract.

The pelvic floor and our bladder work opposite of each other. When our pelvic floor is contracting, our bladder is relaxed and when our pelvic floor relaxes, our bladder is able to contract. This is why it’s important to sit and relax when using the bathroom to allow your pelvic floor to release and help your bladder be able to contract and empty. The relationship between your bladder and pelvic floor muscles will be key when it comes to tips to help reduce the urge to pee.

The average person urinates 5-8 times a day, which means you should be able to wait 3-4 hours in between voids. When you are going to the bathroom every hour you are only allowing your bladder to fill 25% of the way which means you don’t allow your bladder to fully stretch and you will continue to only work the muscle throughout a small range. It’s as if you only did bicep curls from elbows fully extended to 25% of elbow flexion. You won’t be able to build and make biceps strong when staying in the limited range. If you continue this pattern of using the bathroom before your bladder is full, you can start to see weakness in your detrusor muscle and issues with emptying or holding urine.

Now you might be wondering “How can I reduce my strong urge to pee and increase my time between trips to the bathroom?” There are some simple tricks you can do to help reduce those urges and help retrain your bladder.

  1. Perform 5 quick flicks- This is when you perform 5 quick contractions of the pelvic floor muscles to help send a signal to the brain to relax the bladder to help rescue the urge to pee.

  2. Heel Raises: It has been shown that performing heel raises can also increase pelvic floor activation due to the fact that they are innervated by the same nerves.

  3. Toe Curls: When you curl your toes you are activating a motor region on the brain close to the pelvic floor which can help increase pelvic floor activation.

  4. Deep Breathing: The focus here is to calm down our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to help reduce the signals being sent to our bladder to contract. You want to focus on deep breathing by expanding the belly, ribs and back to help tap into our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).

  5. Take your mind off of it: While you are performing the exercises mentioned above try to take your mind off the fact that you have the urge to pee. Think about your favorite vacation spot or maybe about something you have to do later.

The goal is to use these tips to help increase time between voids, so say if you usually go every 60 min now try pushing it to every 75-90min. Track the number of times you void during the day and try to slowly decrease that number. For example, if you go 12 times a day, decrease it to 11 times and keep progressing down to between 5-8. It can take up to 2-3 months to see long lasting changes to bladder function, but just know you can control your bladder and there is life outside of the bathroom.

Please contact me if you any questions about bladder urgency.

Rachel Collins, Womens Health PT

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