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Healthy Bladder and Bowel

Retraining the Bladder

​​​​No one is born with complete bladder control. You 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. Urgency is the feeling that you have to empty your bladder before it’s full.

You can re-train your bladder and learn good voiding (peeing) habits at any age.

Re-Training Your Bladder

The goal is to increase the time between visits to the toilet. For example, if you now can comfortably hold your urine for 1 hour, the goal may be to increase the time to 3 or 4 hours.

  • The first week: Empty your bladder every hour during the day, whether you need to or not. Try not to go pee through the night, if you can. Keep track of your times by using a “voiding diary”.
  • The second week: Increase the time between visits to the toilet by 15 minutes, to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Make sure to practice good bladder habits, such as drinking less caffeine, and using urge control techniques. Don’t worry if you have to empty your bladder before the set time once in a while. The important thing is to keep trying.
  • The third week and beyond: Increase the time by 15 minutes every week, until you can go 3 to 4 hours without emptying your bladder. Congratulate yourself on having re-trained your bladder! Make sure to always practice your good bladder habits so you don’t go back to unhealthy habits.

Urge Control Techniques

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

Current as of: March 19, 2018

Author: Pelvic Floor Group, Alberta Health Services