Are you frustrated with needing to pee all the time? Keep reading to find out how to stop having these moments!
Sudden Urges to Pee is Interfering with My Life!
Do you plan out where the bathrooms are everywhere you go? Are pads a daily addition to your wardrobe? Do you get a sudden, strong urge to pee and don’t know if you can make it to the bathroom in time (and may even leak a bit)?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have overactive bladder, otherwise known as urge incontinence. The good news is the bladder is very trainable! You can see a difference with bladder retraining in as little as three days. We’re not kidding!
What Is Normal?
On average, you should be peeing about eight times per day or about every two to four hours. You should not be waking up more than one time per night to pee. Your urine stream should be the length it takes to say at least eight Mississippis. That being said, everyone’s normal frequency and volume of pee is slightly different. Basically, if you are thinking about it a lot or if it is interfering with your life, you’re probably going too often!
To get a better idea of how often and how much you go, try keeping a bladder diary. Write down when you pee, how much you pee, and what you drink. This can help you figure out if how much and how often you use the bathroom makes sense.
The first time we get an urge to pee is when our bladder is half full. It’s our bladder’s way of telling us, “Hey! You may want to start thinking about finding a bathroom because I’m filling up!” Overactive bladder (urge incontinence) occurs when these signals from our bladder to our brain become too sensitive, causing us to get the urge to pee before the bladder is half full.
How do I know if I have overactive bladder? Count your first pee of the day. This is probably your full bladder capacity, especially if you did not wake up and use the bathroom during the night. You can use this to determine how full your bladder is when you use the bathroom during the day. If your first pee of the day is 16 Mississippis and you’re peeing three to four Mississippis during the day, you are getting signals from the bladder too soon. Your bladder isn’t close to half full.
Additionally, if you get a strong, sudden urge to pee and you’re not sure if you’re going to make it to the bathroom in time, this is also a sign that you have overactive bladder. You may or may not leak with this strong urge.
Retrain Your Brain and Bladder
Retraining your brain and your bladder is a very effective way to solve overactive bladder. You basically have to change when your bladder is sending signals to the brain about when to pee.
First, you should identify any triggers causing your urge – keys in the door, stepping into the shower, arriving at work, putting on your shoes to leave the house, etc. Sometimes an urge occurs with triggers because you may have trained your bladder that it needs to empty when you do these activities.
When you feel that strong urge to pee (with one of your triggers or randomly), don’t give in! Stay where you are, try a few Kegels to inhibit your bladder muscle, and take some deep breaths. Distract your mind with something sensory, like digging your fingernail into your thumb, or visual, such as scrolling through social media or watching a video. When the urge subsides, then calmly walk to the bathroom if it still makes sense.
If it doesn’t make sense to go to the bathroom once your urges subsides (for example, you just went 30 minutes ago and haven’t had anything to drink since then), try to wait to go to the bathroom. This doesn’t have to be a long time. You can just start with five or ten minutes and gradually increase this wait over time.
Other Tips for A Happy Bladder
Stop the “Just in Case” Pee
Yes, the “just in case” pee is a life lesson we all learned from our mothers (myself included). However, this trains the bladder to empty too early, and the bladder will start to think partially full is actually completely full. If you’re going somewhere that has a bathroom (store, friend’s house, work), don’t pee before you leave the house. Just wait for your bladder to tell you when to go. There are a few occasional “just in case” pees that are ok. For example, you are about to go on a long road trip or are about to get on a plane.
You should drink half of your body weight in ounces daily. Drinking less to avoid leaking or to avoid using the bathroom often actually causes your bladder to become more irritated by a higher concentration of urine (dark yellow pee). Your pee should be light yellow or straw colored. Higher concentrated urine can also increase your risk of developing UTIs.
Avoid Bladder Irritants
Bladder irritants include coffee, caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, and smoking/nicotine. Consuming too many bladder irritants can also lead to your bladder emptying too early too often. It’s still ok to have your cup of coffee in the morning. (I need my daily caffeine! What mom doesn’t?!) Just keep your bladder irritant consumption to a minimum.
Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can also help calm your body and nervous system (what carries signals from the bladder to the brain). Try the 360 Breathing exercise in the video below. This can be practiced throughout the day and especially when you feel that strong, sudden urge to pee.
Don’t Let Your Urge to Pee Run Your Life
Don’t let your bladder be your boss! Try the tips in this blog to end your overactive bladder, and stick with it! You can begin to see differences in as little as three days. If these tips don’t end your overactive bladder, speak with your pelvic floor physical therapist. There are some other factors that contribute to overactive bladder, such as tight pelvic floor muscles. If you don’t have a pelvic floor physical therapist, give me a call and I would be happy to help.