Bladder training may be a beneficial treatment for urinary incontinence and urge incontinence. Urinary incontinence is when urine leaks occur, and urge incontinence is a form of urine leakage resulting from a strong urge to urinate.
Bladder training is a type of behavioral therapy for retraining the bladder in order to prevent leaks. The goal of bladder training is to help patients control and hold in urine for longer periods of time to prevent emergency leaks and to get to a bathroom without an accident.
Prior to beginning bladder training, it’s recommended that you keep a journal of your bladder habits. Document every time you go to the bathroom and every time you leak. Your log of bathroom trips and leaks will then be used as your guide to help retrain your bladder.
For starters, create a schedule of your bathroom visits. Check your journal on how many times you go to the bathroom and then add an additional 15 minutes to those times. For example, if you went to the bathroom every hour, schedule bathroom visits for every hour and fifteen minutes. Only use the bathroom at the scheduled time, even if you don’t have an urge to go, and eventually add additional time in-between bathroom breaks.
Another trick is delaying urination. This is done by delaying the urge to urinate by at least five minutes. Meaning, if you feel that you need to go, hold off for about five minutes. Slowly increase this time by 10 minutes, until you can hold off for a whole hour.
If a strong urge to urinate comes on, try to distract yourself by counting down from 100 or practicing deep breathing techniques. If you really need to go, then do use the bathroom, but still visit the bathroom at your next scheduled time.
Another way to train your bladder is by performing bladder-specific exercises. Kegels are designed specifically for the muscles of your pelvic floor. They strengthen your ability to hold in urine, thus reducing the risk of leaks and accidents. The good thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anytime and anywhere because they are super discreet!
To perform Kegels, simply contract your pelvic area as if you were holding in urine, hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat. As mentioned, this can be done anytime, because no one knows you are doing it. So whether you are watching TV or sitting in the office, you can exercise and improve your pelvic floor muscles.
You can also reduce incontinence by avoiding drinking beverages prior to bed, going to the bathroom before you go to sleep, having yourself tested for urinary tract infections, not smoking, and completing ab and core exercises.
By taking the time to work on your bladder, you can reduce leaks and accidents and take back control of your bladder, and your life.