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.
They may be family -- but having an incontinence accident while staying in another person's home can be awkward and embarrassing. How do you explain the wet sheets? How can you dispose of used incontinence pads? Is incontinence keeping you from visiting friends and family?
"One of my patients was afraid she would wet the bed," says May Wakamatsu, MD, chief of Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "She stopped sleeping at her daughter's house because of it...
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.
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.