If you have experienced urinary urgency and frequency for awhile it can be easy to forget what “normal” bladder function used to be. Here are 5 rules to regain control of your bladder for a happier you, and a happier bladder:
1. Using the bathroom to urinate 7 times in 24 hours is considered normal. This ends up resulting in a trip to the bathroom to urinate approximately every 3-4 hours. Additional trips may be added to this total right before bed, during a bowel movement, and immediately after sexual intercourse.
2. Do not go to the bathroom “just in case”, this creates bad habits. Contrary to what our parents taught us when we were three years old, you do not need to go to bathroom “just in case” every time you leave our house, unless you are embarking on a long road trip. The reasoning behind this is that the bladder can sufficiently hold 400-600 ml. This is about 14-20 ounces! If you go to the bathroom “just in case” repeatedly, the nerve endings in the walls of the bladder will become sensitive to even minor stretching during the normal process of the bladder filling, and will begin to give the sense of urgently needing to go to the bathroom even though it is not even near full. For example, if you repeatedly go the bathroom “just in case” and your bladder is only half full, your bladder will start to “reset” and think that amount is indeed full, and it will tell you to go to the bathroom, even though it has plenty of room left.
3. Sit on the toilet and let your muscles fully relax, don’t hover! The pelvic floor muscles cannot fully relax if you are hovering over a toilet seat, thus they may not allow your bladder to fully empty. This can result in needing to use the bathroom frequently as well. If you are concerned about germs, wipe the seat down and lay paper down for protection. Furthermore, do no strain when urinating, or push urine out. It is common for busy people to rush into the bathroom, push urine out as quickly as possible and dash out to save time. This can strain the pelvic floor muscles leading to leakage. Take your time, and allow all of your muscles to relax, and allow a steady stream of urine to flow. Your pelvic floor will thank you.
4. Avoid foods and beverages that irritate the bladder. This includes caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits, smoking cigarettes, tomatoes, artificial sweeteners, and chocolate. Two thirds of daily fluid intake should be water. This is equivalent to 48-64 ounces of water per day. This is important not only for proper cellular function throughout the body, but to assist with cleansing the bladder of irritants consumed in the form of foods and beverages.
5. Avoid constipation. Constipation with backup of the colon places pressure on the bladder which can lead to a sense of needing to urinate, even though the bladder isn’t full. Drink plenty of water (48-64 ounces per day), and maintain physical activity to help improve bowel motility.