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Strengthen Muscles and Retrain Your Overactive Bladder

It’s possible to retrain your bladder to hold more urine for longer periods of time. Better muscle control can also help. Ask your doctor for a specific plan and stick with it -- it can take up to three months to see results. These strategies may be part of your plan:

  • Keep a bladder control log. Record how much you drink, when you pee, and how much (average for you, less than average, or more than average). Each time you have an urge to pee, record how strong it is, on a scale of 1 to 10, and whether any urine leaks.
  • Do Kegel exercises. Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that hold up the bladder. They also help reconnect nerve impulse communication between the bladder and the brain. To do them, lie on your bed or the floor and squeeze the pelvic muscles as if you were trying to pick up a marble with your vagina. Then pretend you're trying to suck the marble inside the vagina. Hold for a count of three; then relax for a count of three. Do Kegels three times a day for five minutes at a time.
  • Resist the urge to urinate for five minutes. Whenever the urge to pee strikes, try to hold it for five minutes before going to the bathroom. Add on another five minutes the following week, and each week after that. The goal is to build up to urinating every three to four hours.
  • Break the mind/ bladder association. If you have certain habits -- say, racing to the bathroom as soon as you get to work or walk in the door at home -- try changing your routine. The urge to pee may diminish in 30 to 60 seconds.

Lifestyle Changes for Bladder Health

Tension, diet, and being overweight can all contribute to urinary incontinence. The good news is that you can do something about all three:

  • Eat more vegetables and fiber. Fiber helps you avoid constipation, which may help reduce pressure on your bladder.
  • Reduce tension. Tense situations can make you to feel as if you need to pee. Deep breathing exercises are one of the tools that can ease tension.
  • Exercise. If you're overweight, losing weight will keep extra pounds from adding to the pressure on your bladder. Exercise may aggravate stress incontinence, though.
  • When you need to go, then go. Holding back too much can create other problems. For example, teachers and nurses may have bladder problems because they wait too long between bathroom breaks.
  • Use good posture when you urinate. Sit back on the toilet. Don’t lean forward, since this may put unwanted stress on the urethra and bladder.

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