You laugh too hard at a friend’s joke and leak urine, or you suddenly need to urinate in the middle of a romantic dinner. These situations are all too common for women with urinary incontinence, and there are many of them — one in four women in the United States reports urinary incontinence.
To help you take back control of your bladder and eliminate the social, emotional, and psychological concerns that often come with urinary incontinence, the team here at Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley recommends bladder retraining.
While Dr. Fernando Otero offers effective interventional therapies for incontinence, such as Botox®, pessaries, and nerve stimulation, bladder retraining can be a powerful tool in the fight against incontinence.
Types of urinary incontinence
There are several different types of urinary incontinence, and our first step in solving your urinary leakage problem is to determine which type is affecting you.
These types include:
- Stress incontinence — urinary leakage due to pressure on your bladder
- Urge incontinence — sudden urge to urinate and inability to control urination
- Functional incontinence — you’re unable to get to the bathroom in time
- Overflow incontinence — you can’t fully void your bladder
Women can also suffer from mixed incontinence, which is typically a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Since there are different underlying problems that lead to urinary incontinence, our approach can vary. For example, functional incontinence requires mitigating the circumstances that are preventing you from reaching the bathroom in time.
Most women, however, experience stress and/or urge incontinence, and these types of the condition can benefit greatly from bladder retraining. That said, bladder retraining can play a valuable role in almost every type of incontinence.
The basics of bladder retraining
The primary goals of bladder retraining are to:
- Increase the amount of urine your bladder can hold
- Lengthen the time between visits to the bathroom to urinate
- Increase your control over the urge to urinate
- Prevent urinary leakage
Depending upon your type of incontinence, we may concentrate more on one goal than another, but each of these goals is critical to regaining control over your bladder.
The mechanics of retraining your bladder
It’s all well and good to talk about bladder retraining, but what exactly does it entail? One of the first retraining methods we recommend are Kegel exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor to provide more support for your bladder and to control your stream of urine. If you’re unfamiliar with Kegels, simply click here for a quick tutorial.
Kegel exercises are a great way to combat stress incontinence as you beef up the support systems surrounding your bladder and urinary tract.
Another great bladder retraining technique is to delay urination when you feel the urge. You can start off slowly by delaying your trip to the bathroom by a few minutes. The goal here is to gradually increase the amount of time that you delay urination, so that you only urinate every three to four hours.
Another great way to increase your control over your bladder is to create a schedule. You can start by making a trip to the bathroom every two hours (or one hour, if need be). Gradually, you spread your schedule out so you’re only making trips every three to four hours.
While this exercise may seem similar to the urination delay exercise above, the scheduling aspect adds a powerful psychological component that can help you better control your incontinence. It’s important to note that you need to stick with your schedule and go to the bathroom whether you feel you need to or not.
These bladder retraining techniques may take several weeks to deliver results, but we promise that your patience and adherence to the training will be rewarded with better bladder control.
If you have more questions about bladder retraining, please contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas.