Tips for Improving Urge Incontinence and Bladder Health

Patient Education,

Urinary urgency or urge incontinence happens when the bladder contracts when it is not supposed to and may result in subsequent leakage of urine. This can occur for different reasons. However, it can commonly be due to either overactive or under active pelvic floor muscles. Due to the connection with the pelvic floor muscles, Physical Therapists specializing in Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can help. They can use bladder retraining which is a technique to improve urinary urge incontinence by trying to improve bladder and pelvic floor function. It is best to be evaluated first by a medical professional to find out which category you fall in, as well as to rule out other possible causes.

Pelvic floor contractions (Kegel contractions) cause inhibition of the bladder, therefore causing the bladder to relax and hold the urine. To make this successful, you need to keep the body still and relaxed. If you attempt to suppress the urge while rushing to the restroom, the bladder may not be inhibited.


Retraining Your Bladder

To begin retraining your bladder, begin with the steps outlined below:

  1. When experiencing a strong urge to urinate, stop your activity. Stay in the position you are in and relax. If standing, you may consider sitting if there is a place mearby to do so.
  2. Perform a series of Pelvic floor contractions, attempting to hold the contraction until the urge subsides. If you feel you are unable to hold the contraction long enough, you can try contracting the muscles at shorter intervals more frequently and letting go several times until the urge subsides.
  3. When it subsides, relax. Take a deep breath or diaphragmatic breath and proceed to the restroom.
  4. If the urge returns, repeat the steps above. This may require you to stop walking on your way to the bathroom. Do not sit on the toilet until the urge has subsided.

Treating Urge Incontinence

Tips to assist with treating urge incontinence:

  1. Sit on the toilet with relaxed upright posture and no hovering.
  2. Relax during voiding without pushing or straining. You can breathe into your belly to encourage relaxation.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Avoid or limit bladder irritants.
  5. Avoid “just in case” voiding.
  6. Avoid constipation.
  7. Normal urination frequency is every 2-5 hours or 4-7 times/day.
  8. Length of urination should be at least 8-10 seconds.
  9. Once on the toilet, do not try to stop the flow of urine. Relax and let it go.