Retrain Your Bladder Part 2
By Linda Verde
As mentioned in our previous blog, it takes time and effort to retrain your bladder. Once you and your health care professional (HCP) have determined the kind and cause of your incontinence and if its suitable for you, you can start right away.
How Bladder Retraining Works
First, start keeping a bladder diary. You may find the concept of keeping such a diary daunting, but measuring your pee is easier and less messy than you think. For the document itself, you can download a bladder diary from the Bladder & Bowel Community (B&BC), if you want, or use a notebook and create your own diary. A bladder diary is important because tracking when and how much you drink and pee, tells your HCP how well your bladder is working. That helps you identify achievable goals.
Next, set up a fixed peeing schedule. It is important to stick to this schedule – if you have an urge you cannot delay (see next step) go, but still try again at the scheduled time whether you feel you have to go or not, and completely empty your bladder each time. Each week gradually increase times between peeing. If you feel an urge before the next scheduled time, try to delay it – relax, sit down if you can. Last, strengthen your pelvic floor with Kegel exercises. This is not just for women; the Mayo Clinic prescribes Kegel exercises for men because they are for more than alleviating incontinence. Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel, and affect sexual function. Continence NZ also offers pelvic floor training for men. The Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA) cautions Kegels might induce muscle spasms and tension in people with interstitial cystitis so, if this is an issue for you, ask your medical practitioner before developing your bladder training program.
Guess what? Yup! Like finding a toilet, there are apps for this too. The Bladder Retraining Form tracks bladder retention and muscle retraining; HCPs can download its data to patient records. Tät has six basic and six advanced pelvic floor muscle strengthening programs. Squeezy is a UK National Health Services’ physiotherapy app, also for pelvic floor muscle exercise. Family Practice Notebook has a notebook and an app called Bladder Retraining Drill to help with bladder retraining.
What else can you do?
Besides bladder retraining and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, other things you can do are to look at your diet, decrease your caffeine intake, stop smoking, and look at what medicines you are taking. Here at Instride, LeeAnne Beattie offers Tips ‘N’ Tricks for combating leakage. Your HCP may prescribe medications or may suggest a pessary. A pessary supports the pelvic structure from within the vagina.
Although it takes time and effort, bladder retraining can improve your quality of life. To me, it’s a good day when I get to the bathroom on time. I look forward to many more of those good days.