Uptraining Your Bladder: 6 Ways to Strengthen Your Bladder Control

Giusi M. Tsaousis, PT, DPT, PCES, NCPT, SFMA

Are you someone who takes many trips to the bathroom?  Did your bladder seem full?  Do you get the urge to urinate more than once per hour?  When you go, do you urinate for 1 minute or do you urinate for 5 seconds?  How full was your bladder?  If you lean more towards the 5 seconds of urination, you may find this blogpost very helpful. 

It is important to urinate when our bladder is close to 100% full.  Here is a lesson you may or may not have learned in your anatomy class.  (I think we should all take anatomy since we all live in our bodies!  We will save that for another blogpost).

Uptraining your bladder

In a normal bladder as shown above, the signal is sent to our brain when the bladder is about 75% full.  If you use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge (most people whether in the office or in their homes have easy access to a toilet), your brain will start to think it is 100% full at the 75% mark.  Guess what?  Your brain will then start to signal the urge at 50% full.  You then use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge so your brain will think your bladder is full but in reality it is only 50% full.  You get the idea. 

Change this pattern!

1.The first step is understanding how often you go to pee.  I recommend keeping a diary of some sort.  This can be on paper, on your phone, or whichever method works best for you.

2. Wait after feeling the urge to urinate.  How long?  Start with 3 minutes if you can tolerate it. You will notice that you may not go every hour, perhaps every 1.5 hours.  For some people this uptraining in order to reach the frequency of once every 2 hours may take weeks.  

3. Be patient. The average normal frequency in a full functioning bladder is once every 2-4 hours depending on your fluid intake.  If you drink excessive fluids, your goal may be once every 2 hours.  The point is that change takes time so stay in the game.

4. Perform quick pelvic contractions which may calm the urge if you tend to get strong urges to urinate.  Even if the bathroom is easily accessible when you’re home, this is good practice for those times you may be out of the house or on a walk.

5. Continue to stay hydrated.  If you hold off on drinking to decrease the amount of trips to the toilet, you may irritate your bladder and/or be dehydrated.  It is not comfortable!

6. Are you getting up in the middle of the night to urinate?  Or are you up for other reasons and decide to urinate since you are awake? The first requires uptraining whereas the latter is a bad habit.  If you are getting up without an urge to pee, don’t pee!  This is part of uptraining.  

I have heard too many women complaining of going to the bathroom too often.  Let’s not let your bladder interfere with your lifestyle. Start with these tips.  If you need more guidance, contact a local pelvic health physical therapist.