When you initially seek help with urinary incontinence, the first steps that most people do are to research the options of incontinence pads. Another is seeing your doctor who may suggest bladder training. This is a technique designed to train your bladder to hold more and hold on for longer between toilet breaks, while at the same time building your confidence. The aim is to put you back in control of your bladder instead of your bladder being in control of you.
You can undertake bladder training on your own, but you may find it more effective if it is supervised by your doctor or a trained continence specialist. Before your start, you will be asked to keep a diary of the frequency and approximate volume of your toilet visits. This will help your doctor to see how severe your incontinence issues are and give you a benchmark against which you can measure your progress. People without problems will normally visit the toilet between four and seven times a day, though naturally this will vary according to fluid intake. If you are visiting the toilet more often than this, then bladder training can help. Whilst this may be an option, which may take some time to train, the use of Incontinence pads can be used throughout the training period, for extra protection.
How to train your bladder
Bladder training is a very simply process that increases the time between toilet visits in small increments. When you notice the need to urinate, you try to wait for five minutes before you go. Once you have mastered this, you can try waiting ten minutes, then fifteen minutes and so on. While you are waiting, you can distract yourself by crossing your legs, sitting on a hard chair, occupying your mind or practicing relaxation techniques. Over time, you will find that you can significantly reduce the frequency of your toilet visits, while at the same time gaining confidence that you can hold on in between.
How does it work?
Frequent urination, such as going ‘just in case’ whenever you pass a toilet, trains your bladder to hold less. This means that it only takes a small volume of urine to trigger the urge to go. By gradually training your bladder to hold more, you can extend the period between urination. For many sufferers, the panic of needing to go at inconvenient times can make their condition feel much worse. With bladder training you can prove to yourself that you can wait and that there is nothing to panic about.
Scheduled toilet breaks
Another way to train your bladder is to schedule regular toilet breaks and stick to them, whether you need to go or not. Once you have established these, for example once per hour, you can slowly extend the time between breaks, step by step, adding around fifteen minutes at a time. Using this method, you can slowly extend the time between breaks to three or four hours, freeing you up to do so much more, such as cinema and theatre shows, bus journeys and more.
Ways to help
You can improve the success of bladder training by avoiding caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and fizzy beverages, but you should still try to maintain good fluid intake as concentrated urine will irritate your bladder. Using pelvic floor exercises, such as the Kegel technique, can make bladder training faster and more effective, especially in women.
Bladder retraining takes time and it may take six to ten weeks before you get significant results. This is where having a diary to monitor your progress can be a real help. Remember, IncoDirect has a wide range of products to protect you while your training takes hold, including incontinence pads and pants that only you will know you’re wearing. Do not worry if you are unsuccessful with bladder training as there are other solutions, such as medical treatments and surgical procedures that you can try.