Retrain your bladder to 'hold it in'


If you have urinary incontinence, retraining your bladder and learning to suppress the "urge to go" could help you manage the problem.

Bladder training can be a very effective way to treat urinary incontinence.

The purpose of the exercise is to increase the intervals between going to the bathroom to void your bladder, mainly by training your bladder to hold more fluid before it feels the need to urinate. This can also reduce the incidence of small "accidents" and the feeling of urgency. 

You start off by training your bladder to void according to a schedule. In the beginning it might feel strange to "go" when you don't need to and putting off a trip to the bathroom if you feel the urge before it is "time" to go. In case of the latter there are suppression techniques you can use, e.g. Kegel exercises and relaxation.

What is urge suppression?

This helps you to control the sudden urge to urinate, which means you are no longer so desperate to get to the toilet. Hurrying to the bathroom is bad because it may further irritate your bladder and take your concentration away from controlling your bladder.

Use the "urge suppression" technique to help control your bladder:

  1. Come to an immediate standstill and sit down if you can. This makes it easier to concentrate on controlling your bladder.  Stop all movement immediately and stand still. Sit down if possible. Remaining still increases your ability to stay in control.
  2. Quickly and tightly squeeze your pelvic floor muscles a number of times. Make the squeezes very quick and don't entirely relax your muscles between squeezes. This causes the bladder to relax, which immediately puts you in control of the situation. 
  3. Breathe deeply and relax. Pull up your shoulders and let them drop and feel the tension drain out of your entire body.
  4. Concentrate on suppressing the urge. Distracting yourself from the feeling of urgency can also be effective.
  5. Once the feeling of urgency has subsided, take a slow, calm walk to the bathroom. If the urge returns, go through the steps again. When the strong urgency subsides, walk slowly and calmly to the bathroom. If the urge begins to build again, repeat the above steps. Contracting your muscles while you walk to the bathroom may also help.

Never panic – going to the bathroom doesn't have to be an emergency!

Source: Women's Continence Centre, University of California San Fransisco. 

Read more:

Understanding urge incontinence

Botox injections may treat urge incontinence

6 everyday things to avoid if you have urge incontinence

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4465 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 5411 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.