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Mind Over Bladder - Tips and Tools to Make Your Bladder Behave

Posted Apr 24 2010 1:31pm

Are you tired of your bladder running your life?

Going to the bathroom does not have to be an EMERGENCY (although it can seem like it). Feeling your bladder ready to burst, you sprint to the bathroom only to discover it was a false alarm (tinkle, tinkle…) What you are feeling is not a bladder full of urine, patiently waiting for you to get to the bathroom, but a bladder that is misbehaving and contracting in an uninhibited and frankly inconvenient manner. You are feeling the contractions of the muscle around the bladder. The bladder is sending you an urgent message but it may not be an accurate message regarding the need to urinate. (Remember your bladder is a storage tank, should easily hold 1 cup of urine and nudge you to urinate every 2-4 hours.) The problem with urgency is that your bladder is screaming at you- You Must Go Now! Remembering how the bladder works, it should gladly fill with about a cup of urine and every 3-4 hours politely suggest that when it’s convenient, you might want to go to the bathroom. Does that sound like your bladder? If not, read on.

We understand that you feel that your bladder is out of control and will not submit to the gentle suggestions given below. Trust us; we’ve helped thousands of women regain control of their misbehaving bladders.

A few misconceptions about bladders
-keep your bladder empty
-go to the bathroom frequently
-don’t drink so much water
-once you gotta go, you gotta go

The truth
-you don’t have to keep your bladder empty, it is suppose to store urine, that it’s job
-going to the bathroom frequently or just in case will not help you make your bladder less urgent -decreasing your water intake actually makes your urine more concentrated and is more irritating to your bladder. You will go to the bathroom more frequently to get rid of the irritating urine. (More on how your diet impacts your bladder at a later blog.)
-the urge to urinate can go away, your bladder can settle down and go back to filling

Something to think about… Have you ever had the feeling that you needed to go just as you got a phone call from a friend? Despite feeling you need to go, you chat longer you had planned. Once you hung up the phone you started another task only to realize you "forgot" to go to the bathroom. Where did that urine go? It didn’t go anywhere, your bladder calmed down and held the urine just as it should.

Terrific tips to calm your bladder:

1. Diaphragmatic breathing to calm your bladder
Place your hands on your lower ribs and belly. As you breathe in, think about breathing into your hands. Imagine that your breath is filling your hands. You should feel your belly expand and your ribs move outward. As you exhale, give yourself a little squeeze, your abdomen and ribs will feel as if they are moving inward.

2. Pelvic Floor Muscle Contractions- 6 quick contractions of the pelvic floor muscles (Kegels)

3. Direct Pressure on the Pelvic Floor Muscles- sit down

4. Distraction Techniques
For example, count backward, sing, and visualize your pelvic floor muscles contracting or your bladder relaxing. Many women who are trying to delay going to the bathroom will have a puzzle or a hobby handy to take their mind off their bladder.

5. Acupressure- this can be very helpful to decrease complaints of urgency.
About 3-4 finger widths above the inside ankle bone is an acupressure point that can help decrease bladder urgency. Press along the inner part of your shinbone until you feel a slight depression. This spot may be tender. Press on this spot when you feel the urge to go to the bathroom. Press on this acupressure point for 60 seconds 1-2 times per day to help control your bladder.

Practice these tips on the “baby urges” or to avoid going “just in case”, don’t wait for the tidal wave of all urges! Many women find it helpful to combine these techniques. For example, you could contract your pelvic floor muscles 3-6 times then take 3 diaphragmatic breaths and contract your muscles again. Or you could sit down while using diaphragmatic breathing. Or you could rub the inside of your shin with the opposite heel (pressing on the acupressure point) while contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Experiment and find the right combination that works for you.

The important thing is to stay calm and not run to the bathroom. Rushing to the bathroom can make urge incontinence worse!

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