Leaking can have so many causes and reasons behind it, but one thing we can do to help is Bladder training, basically retraining our way to act on the urge to pee!
You may be wondering what Bladder Training is, and the University of California San Francisco defines it as: “Bladder training is an important form of behavior therapy that can be effective in treating urinary incontinence. The goals are to increase the amount of time between emptying your bladder and the amount of fluids your bladder can hold. It also can diminish leakage and the sense of urgency associated with the problem.”
This is done to get a better understanding of your bladder and how it works, to eliminate any habits we have created or associated with it, such as a “Just in case” pee, running towards the toilet, and poor hydration techniques. So, let’s go over each one of those to determine how you can work these into your routine and help urinary incontinence, as well as urgency!
Just In Case Pees, How to avoid them on your bladder training:
We’ve all done them, just in case I need to pee when I do xyz, before you go out, before you cook, before you open the door, but this is actually not the best thing to do to prevent leakage or urgent peeing, it has the opposite effect.
The idea behind bladder training is similar to potty training for kids, learning when exactly your bladder needs release and going at the right time, and if you are doing a “just in case” one, you are training your bladder to send you urge signals when is not even really full or ready to empty, making the bladder muscles unreliable, causing contractions in the bladder at odd times, which is a huge cause for leaks!
You are supposed to use the toilet every 2-3 hours, obviously if you drink more water, you’ll need to go more often, but your bladder can really hold a ton more liquid than you think it does!
Making a change in this behaviour will give you a ton of positives in the long term, helping you reduce the urgency behind your toilet visits, as well as your leakage, however, it can take a while for it to catch on, so you might be experiencing the urgency for a while before it goes away, but after you get the urgency, ask yourself: “When was the last time I went? Do I truly need to?”, and if you don’t really need to, the urge should go away, but if it doesn’t, it’s actually time to go!
Drinking too much water? Is that possible for Bladder Training?
I’m sure you have been incredibly busy throughout the day, noticed you haven’t drank enough water and gulped a few cups just for good measure. I’m guilty of this myself, sometimes the busyness of the day makes me forget to keep hydrated and then I go ahead and calm my thirst by drinking a ton of water at once, this is not necessarily helpful with controlling that bladder urgency.
And if you have also noticed that even if you’re not drinking a ton of water through the day, that urgency remains, it’s mostly because the lining of the bladder is irritated thanks to the concentrated urine you are producing!
The best way to avoid the urgency and over drinking of water, is to slowly and in small portions, drink some water throughout the day. There are many ways you can do this, so let me give you some examples:
- Carry your own personal water bottle with you! Even if you are at home, make sure you fill it up in the morning and start taking small sips, at least 3 or 4 every hour, once the bottle is empty, fill it up again!
- Get a Water intake diary! Or you can make it on your own, this is really good if you enjoy journaling. Track every how much water you are drinking through the day, and most importantly, track how many times you are going to the bathroom.
- Be patient! These changes could take a while to catch up with our brains, so just make sure you are doing what you can, it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress!
Do remember, drinking water is not the enemy, it can be really easy to forget during these days when we are out and about wearing a mask, just be conscious, and if water is not really to your taste, add some lemon to it for flavor.
Running to the toilet: How to avoid this during your training!
I’m sure we have all felt it, we really need to pee, and if we don’t go quickly, it feels like we can’t hold it, but the closer you get to the toilet the more urgent the need becomes. There are a few reasons why running towards the toilet instead of walking could be a reason for leaking, so let’s go through them!
- Panic! That fear you feel when you get the urgency, that if you don’t get there in seconds you’ll pee yourself, can be triggering to your brain that you are actually closer, therefore causing the leak.
- Movement! The effort of running towards it can be giving extra pressure to your bladder, therefore causing the leak.
- Muscle contraction! Your bladder muscle might be contracting before you reach the bathroom, it’s a natural response, and it’s likely the cause of your panic in the first place, which then leads to the movement… oh, you see? It’s a cycle!
The ideal way to break this cycle is to take back control, once the urge is happening the closer you get to the toilet, take a deep breath, squeeze in your pelvic floor, and walk towards the toilet as calmly as you can!
This might not always work, there might be some accidents along the way, but there’s nothing wrong with that! Accidents happen, so be kind to yourself when they do, and do your best to avoid them, I know it can be frustrating, but it will be worth it in the end!
Have you tried bladder training? What do you think of it?! Let me know in the comments below!
If you are struggling with Interstitial Cystitis, I have a blog post all about it, which can be incredibly helpful, so give it a read!