Bladder urgency and frequency is a common problem. Sometimes it’s paired with urinary incontinence but often it’s just that feeling of ‘I’ve got to go right now!’. Women will often report that they are going to the toilet ten or more times per day and often they see that as being just a normal thing that happens and they’re completely unaware that with a few strategies they can regain control of their bladder.
I liken an urgent bladder to a 2 year old child- provide it with no discipline or direction and you will have a naughty bladder that screams at you that it wants to go to the toilet now, absolutely can’t wait and isn’t taking no for an answer. We just need to implement some basic discipline and it will begin to behave.
So exactly how do I look after my bladder you say?
Somebody about a hundred years ago came up with the ‘fact’ that we need to consume 2 litres of water to be healthy and health professionals have been spouting that ever since. Humans consume an awfully big range of fluids each day and your needs will vary depending on your body size, activity levels, how hot it is where you live, etc . There isn’t a perfect amount of water you need to drink each day. Studies have shown that we stay hydrated and cell function continues within large ranges of fluid intake. A good rule is to have a look at your wee and if it’s got anything more than a light straw colour or an odour you should probably take a bit more in. If it’s completely clear then it might be time to lay off the fluids for a little while. Don’t forget than any kind of fluid is fluid- it can enter your body via watery foods, cups of tea or coffee, juice or herbal tea. Just be mindful that some bladders are sensitive to too much caffeine, alcohol or certain foods such as chilli or artificial sweeteners. The take home message: sip regularly throughout the day, avoid too much caffeine or other irritants and monitor the colour of your wee!
Another common problem is people going ‘just in case’. When we leave the house, before a road trip, before we leave for the shops it seems commonplace that even though our bladder isn’t making a squeak of noise we think it’s probably best we empty it lest it gets full when we’re in a public place. Now I see the logic because some of us are not so fond of a public toilets but if we tell our bladder that at half capacity all the time it needs to be emptied it gets used to that and so each time it gets half full it starts telling you that it’s time to go. And so begins the cycle of the reduced bladder capacity. Maybe it started when you were a little kid and Mum wanted everyone to go before you left the house so you weren’t stranded by the side of the road. The good news is it’s not too late- before you catch yourself going just because stop and think ‘no I’ll just wait’.
Some women experience triggers, such as the key in the lock when they first get home or running their hands under the cold tape. Over time when we respond to these triggers by going to the toilet we are strengthening the idea that our bladder/brain has that each time we get the key out it’s time to go to the toilet. Avoid responding to triggers and wait until the urgency has subsided before you rush off. You might find you don’t need to go to the toilet just yet.
If you’ve got a bladder that takes you to the toilet more than 8 times a day, more than once at night, if it yells at you that it’s got to go right now and makes you rush or if you’re not making it in time it might be time for a trip down to your local women’s health physiotherapist to work out some of the particulars. Women’s health physiotherapists can help you with retraining your pelvic floor to hang on to your bladder for longer, strategies for calming your bladder down and provide individualised assessment and treatment of your bladder concerns.
Don’t get caught out ever again- get back to doing the things you love and don’t let your bladder rule your life!