First, it’s always a good idea to discuss any concerns you have regarding your bladder or bowels with your doctor.
Record: Next, keep track of your bladder and bowel habits for about 5 days. Note how much and what type of fluid you drink. Also note when you go to the bathroom and what prompted you to use the toilet - did you feel an urge to go? How strong was that urge? Were you doing the dishes? Exercising? Just leaving or arriving home? Did you lose a little urine or stool before you got to the toilet?
This information is helpful in evaluating steps you can take to improve your situation.
Are you going too often?
Avoid irritants: Some liquids are irritating to the bladder and may cause you to visit the bathroom more frequently. Some of the most common bladder irritants are :
-Coffee / tea
-Carbonated beverages - yes, even sparkling water!
-Cranberry and citrus juices and fruits
You may find that your bladder is happier without some of these things. Ultimately, understanding how your bladder responds to what you put in your body will help your decision making.
Treat constipation: Are you constipated? The rectum sits very close to the bladder in the pelvis. If it is constantly full, it puts pressure on the bladder reducing the bladder's ability to store urine and you may feel the need to urinate more often.
Control the urge: Sometimes, we have trained ourselves into needing to go to the bathroom more often than necessary. The bladder is designed to hold approximately 2 cups of urine. When we consistently empty the bladder without letting it fill by going “just in case”, we create urination habits that can be disruptive to our daily schedules. Did you just use the restroom 30 minutes ago? Unless you have seriously chugged some fluids...chances are your bladder is not full yet. If you feel an urge to go, but know you bladder can’t possibly be full, practice some bladder urge suppression techniques:
-stop moving and sit down if you can
-take some calming breaths
-contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles
Repeat this several times. This should quiet the urge and buy you a little more time (or at least let you get the key in the door!). If the urge does not go away completely, go ahead and use the restroom. Remember, when you are drinking adequate amounts of fluids, you should expect to urinate every 2-4 hrs.
Relax: Are you emptying your bladder completely? Sometimes we are in a hurry or just don’t relax the bladder sphincter muscles enough to fully empty. This may result in needing to go again soon. Both men and women are able to relax their pelvic floor muscles better when sitting on the toilet.
Most of these suggestions are for those who find themselves urinating too often. But not going often enough can be a problem too. Not drinking enough fluid and repeatedly ignoring the urge to go are the most common culprits.
Have questions, concerns, or want to discuss this further? Natalie and Susan can help you create a bladder retraining program that is right for you or advise if other interventions might be necessary. We are ready to help, call 503-974-9078.