Skip to content

Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

Font Size

Bladder Training

When you have trouble controlling your bladder, you never know when you're going to feel the sudden, uncontrollable urge to go. You can get to the point where you are scheduling your entire life around the availability of a bathroom. The fear of leaking while shopping or out with friends can be embarrassing enough to make you stay home.

Bladder control problems are something most people are reluctant to talk about, even with their doctors. Yet having that discussion can help you find a solution to the problem and get you back out into the world again.

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

At Events With Incontinence

A lecture hall, the theater, a ballgame: if the setting is crowded, incontinence is a hassle. Many people avoid those events. Others get crafty in devising their exit plans. "People can be very strategic," says Roger Dmochowski, MD, a urologist and director of the Vanderbilt Continence Center in Nashville, Tenn. "It's amazing how good some people are at estimating their bladder problem. They have a fairly good idea of the time frame they're working with. They try to make it through the challenging...

Read the At Events With Incontinence article > >

Often the first treatment doctors recommend for bladder control problems is bladder retraining, a type of behavioral therapy that helps you regain control over urination. Bladder control training gradually teaches you to hold in urine for longer and longer periods of time to prevent emergencies and leaks.

Is Bladder Training Right for Me?

The decision to try bladder training depends on what's causing the problem. Bladder control training is typically used to treat urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine. Incontinence is most common in women, especially after childbirth and menopause. Different types of urinary incontinence exist, including:

  • Stress incontinence: Sudden pressure on your abdomen (such as from a cough, sneeze, or laugh) causes you to accidentally lose urine.
  • Urge incontinence: You feel a sudden, strong urge to go to the bathroom because your bladder contracts even when it's not full. You may not always be able to reach the toilet in time.
  • Mixed incontinence: A combination of stress and urge incontinence.
  • Overflow incontinence: A problem emptying the bladder completely that leads to urine leakage.

Bladder retraining may also be used to treat bed-wetting in children.

The Bladder Retraining Technique

Before you begin bladder control training, your doctor will probably ask you to keep a diary. In your bathroom diary, you'll write down every time you have the urge to go, as well as when you leak. Using your diary as a guide, you'll use the following techniques to help you gain more control over urination.

Schedule bathroom visits. Determine how often you're going to the bathroom based on your diary entries. Then add about 15 minutes to that time. For example, if you're going to the bathroom every hour, schedule bathroom visits at every one hour, 15 minutes. Use the bathroom at each scheduled visit, regardless of whether you actually feel the urge to go. Gradually increase the amount of time between bathroom breaks.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Incontinence Women Slideshow
leaking faucet
Public restroom door sign
nachos and beer
woman holding water
Food That Makes You Gotta Go
Male Incontinence Slideshow
Mature woman standing among peers
Worried in bed
woman standing in front of restroom sign
various pills
sitting in chair