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Healthy Bladder and Bowel

Retraining the Bladder

​​​​​​​No one is born with complete bladder control. Yo​u learn this as you grow and mature. The brain trains the bladder by telling it when to empty. A pattern of frequency and urgency can be changed. You can re-train your bladder and learn good voiding (peeing) habits at any age.

Urgency - the feeling that you have to empty your bladder before it’s full.

Frequency - how often you need to empty your bladder.

How to control urgency

  • Stop what you’re doing and stay still. Sitting sometimes helps.
  • ​Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles 4 or more times.
  • Relax the rest of your body.
  • Focus on something else, like counting backwards.
  • Concentrate on holding back the urge to empty your bladder.
  • Wait until the urge goes away.
  • Walk to the bathroom at a normal pace, or wait until later to go.

Re-Training Your Bladder

It is helpful to complete a bladder diary before you try to re-train your bladder. It helps you understand your current patterns of passing your urine.

The goal with re-training your bladder is to increase the time between visits to the toilet. For example, if you now can comfortably hold your urine for 1 hour, your goal may be to increase the time to 3 or 4 hours. The schedule below is just an example. Your nurse can help you plan a schedule that is right for you.

  • Week 1: Empty your bladder every hour during the day, even if you don’t feel that you need to. Try not to go the bathroom through the night. Keep track of your times by writing them down.
  • Week 2: Increase the time between visits to the toilet by 15 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes). Develop good bladder habits, such as drinking less caffeine, and using urge control techniques above. It’s OK if you have to empty your bladder before the set time once in a while. Just keep on trying.
  • Week 3 and beyond: Increase the time between bathroom visits by 15 minutes each week. Do this until you can go 3 to 4 hours without emptying your bladder. Congratulate yourself on having re-trained your bladder. Keep up the good habits and pattern.​​

Current as of: April 30, 2020

Author: Women’s Health, Alberta Health Services