What Is Bladder Training for Urinary Incontinence?
Regardless of the reason, having urinary incontinence is embarrassing and let’s face it, you feel like you have lost control of your body. It’s humiliating, but things don’t have to stay this way. Take advantage of all the positive treatments and lifestyle changes you can pursue. You can regain control. What is bladder training for urinary incontinence? Let’s start here.
Two Common Types of Female Incontinence
Most women have either stress incontinence or urge incontinence, although some can have a combination of both known as mixed incontinence.
Stress incontinence occurs when pressure is exerted on the pelvic area like with a cough, a sneeze, laughing, or lifting something heavy.
Urge incontinence happens when a person suddenly has the urge to pee so much that they can’t make it to the restroom in time.
Both types, along with mixed incontinence, can be helped by bladder training.
Goals of Bladder Training for Incontinence
Gaining control over a bodily function like urinating is the primary goal of bladder training.
This is accomplished by doing three main tasks:
- Increasing the length of time between bathroom trips.
- Increasing the amount of urine your bladder can hold.
- Improving control over the urge to urinate.
Beyond these three goals, at the beginning it is helpful to keep a diary of when you urinate, have the urge to urinate, and when you leak. This will give you and your gynecologist a starting place from which to move forward.
What Does Bladder Training Entail?
There are a number of methods you can try. Your gynecologist may recommend several and suggest what order.
Scheduling Your Bathroom Visits
After reviewing your diary, decide how often you are going to the bathroom. Start by adding 15 minutes longer. If you go to the bathroom every 1.5 hours, wait until 1.45. Even if you don’t feel the need to go, try anyway. Then gradually add more time in between urinating.
Whenever you feel the urge to pee, wait another 5 minutes before you go. Then slowly increase the time between the urge and when you actually urinate. The goal is to last at least 3 or 4 hours between urinating.
Try distracting your focus from peeing to other things. Count backwards from 50. Deep breathing might help. When you can’t hold it any longer, go to the bathroom. Then resume your scheduled times to go.
Kegel exercises combined with the other two practices can make a big difference. Focus on the muscles in your pelvis that you would use to stop urinating. Hold that contraction for 5 seconds, then release for 5 seconds. Gradually increase to 10-second holds and releases. Finally, do 3 sets of 10-second holds and releases several times a day.
Be patient. It may take a few months of training to accomplish your goals.
Other Tips That Can Help Incontinence
- Go to the bathroom right before bed.
- Don’t drink liquids before bed.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, tomatoes and foods with acid.
- Ask your OB/GYN about any other treatment options that might help.
Compare your diary from when you started to note progress.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Relief is possible.
Schedule an appointment with the Center for Women’s Health to start a bladder training program or to review your success. Call (630) 416-3300 to schedule an appointment at our offices in Naperville and Plainfield, IL.