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Intermittent Self-Catheterization (Female)

How often should the bladder empty?

  • The normal bladder should empty every 3 to 4 hours during the day.
  • Most people void (pee) 6 to 8 times every 24 hours.
  • Each time you void, you should get 250 to 500 mL (1 to 2 cups) of urine (pee). This is about 2 litres each day.
  • You should not leak during the day or at night.
Overstretched bladder

If you wait too long to empty your bladder, your bladder muscle may become overstretched. An overstretched bladder can hold urine longer than 4 hours now, but later in life, the bladder may not work properly. Signals may not be strong enough to tell you when your bladder is full and when to empty it. It may then become more difficult for you to fully empty your bladder.

Frequency and urgency

If you void small amounts of urine often (frequency), your bladder becomes trained to hold only small amounts. It becomes oversensitive and irritable, and the urge to void becomes hard to ignore (urgency).


Many adults do not need to empty their bladder at night. Some people get up at night because they drink fluids late in the day or they take medicines (called diuretics or “water pills”) that make their kidneys produce more urine at night.

As our bodies age, it can become normal to empty the bladder 1 to 2 times at night.