Exercising your pelvic floor should be as important a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth. Read more
Retrain your bladder to develop good habits by practising the Bladder Drill. Read more
Retrain your bladder to develop good habits by practicing the Bladder Drill.
If your bladder is over-active, it will be sending messages to your brain to say you need to empty your bladder before it is full. You may find that you are always rushing to the loo or frequently have a strong urge to go. If you have only recently developed these symptoms it is important to visit your GP as having a urine infection can cause urgency.
Retraining your bladder – the Bladder Drill
Women with an over-active bladder often find they go to the loo ‘just in case’ or try to keep their bladders empty. This habit actually makes the problem worse. Retraining your bladder (known as Bladder Drill) to develop good habits helps to control the frequent urge to go. If you are taking medication or using the Pericalm, carrying out the Bladder Drill will help to make these treatments more effective.
1. Keeping a bladder diary
Keeping a diary for two or three days at monthly intervals can tell you how much of a problem you really have and show you if things are improving. It is also useful information to show your doctor if you have to seek further help. Try to note down how often you go to the loo and if you can, wee into a plastic jug to measure how much you are emptying each time. Also write down how much and what you are drinking and when. Finally record any episodes of leaking that you have.
2. Calming down that urge to go
Many women with an over-active bladder find that there are triggers that make them need to rush to the loo. Putting the key in the door when they get home, washing their hands or hearing running water or just seeing the loo door can all make you feel desperate to go. Being aware of these triggers and trying to distract yourself can help to make the urge settle. Try singing a song (in your head if you are in public!), planning your next holiday or counting backwards to busy your brain with things other than needing the loo.
Think about what little girls do when they need to empty their bladder. They often hold on to their ‘bits’, cross their legs and go up and down on their toes. They don’t realise it but these are all strategies that help to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles to hold on and to calm down the bladder. You can achieve the same effect by crossing your legs or sitting over the arm of a sofa or chair so that you have pressure on your pelvic floor area. If you are standing then going up and down on your toes with your legs crossed can also help.
3. Using your pelvic floor
Tightening your pelvic floor muscles can help to calm the bladder down. Read our article on pelvic floor exercises (link) for information on how to perform an effective pelvic floor muscle contraction. Try to pull in and hold for as long as you can until the urge to go settles.
Holding your breath or breathing too fast can cause you to leak or feel more urgency. Try to breathe calmly and slowly and you will have more chance of holding on.
Using these tips, try to lengthen the time between visits to the loo. The important thing is not to try too much too soon. It takes time for the bladder to learn to hold on so only start by trying to hold on for a few minutes extra at first. Trying to hold on for too long too soon can make you feel frustrated and as though you are not getting anywhere.
By Alison Bourne, MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH