Overactive bladder (OAB) refers to a group of symptoms, the most prominent of which is a sudden urge to urinate. A 2018 review estimates that OAB affects as many as 33 million adults in the United States.

“Bladder training is one of the first-line treatments for OAB. Bladder training is meant to help you adapt to holding urine for longer, so you don’t have to take as many trips to the bathroom.”

We will cover the basics of bladder training, how it works, and its potential benefits. Continue reading to discover more.

Typically, your bladder will fill gradually throughout the day. It can hold about 1 pint of urine, according to the National Health Service. When your bladder becomes full, signaling between your brain and bladder lets you know that it’s time to use the bathroom.

The bladder muscles then squeeze to allow urine to exit your body through the urethra. Most people empty their bladder about four to seven times per day.

While the exact cause is unknown, OAB is associated with an overactivity of the bladder muscles. When these muscles contract involuntarily, it can lead to:

Many people with OAB rush to the bathroom when they feel the urge to urinate. This can make OAB worse as your bladder will become used to holding less urine.

Bladder training helps you to hold your urine. This extends The time between bathroom trips..

“Bladder training involves several different techniques. Let’s look at these now.”

Setting a routine

Bladder training aims to go to the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day. This helps your bladder to function at a certain level. Gradually, you will increase the interval between bathroom trips.

You may start by waiting 15 minutes before using the bathroom if you find that you go to the bathroom about every 30 minutes. You will aim to go to the bathroom every 45 minutes.

As your training progresses, you can begin to increase this waiting interval to 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and so on. According to 2018 research, the overall goal is to be able to hold your bladder for about 3 to 4 hours before using the bathroom.

It is important to not rush to the toilet when you are in the bathroom. Try to go to the bathroom at a regular pace. This helps to reduce the idea of going to the bathroom with a lot of distress.

Distracting yourself

Bladder training involves resisting the urge to use the bathroom immediately. It can be difficult to not use the bathroom immediately when you feel like urinating.

Distraction techniques can be used. These include things that are not related to the topic of this article.

  • Pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises like Kegels can strengthen the muscles involved with urination. Contracting your pelvic floor muscles when the urge to urinate happens can help to ease this feeling.
  • Deep breathing exercises. Doing deep breathing exercises can help you to relax when you feel the need to urinate.
  • Staying still. Movement can sometimes make urinary issues worse. When this feeling arises, stand still or sit down on a hard surface to help ease it. Crossing your legs may also help.
  • Finding an activity to distract you. Doing things like watching TV, reading a book, or even counting down from 100 may also help to take your mind off of having to go.

Some distraction techniques may work for some people and not others. As you figure out which distraction techniques work best for you, try to stay patient.

Monitoring liquids

It is natural to think that drinking less liquid can help to reduce urinary frequencies. It is still important to make sure you are consuming enough liquids.

Drinking enough liquids can prevent things like dehydration, constipation, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). It also helps with bladder training.

“Bladder training needs to be effective if you don’t have enough bladder. It can irritate the lining of your bladder if urine is too concentrated.”

To help keep to your bladder training routine at night, it may be a good idea to limit liquids 1 or 2 hours before bed. Additionally, try to reduce or eliminate the consumption of liquids that may irritate your bladder, such as:

  • Coffee, tea, and energy drinks are popular.
  • Alcohol.
  • The drinks are carbonated.
  • There are beverages that contain a substance.
  • juices from fruits like oranges or lemons.

Keeping a diary

It is important to keep a diary during bladder training. You and your doctor can track your progress. You should record things like this.

  • When you go to the bathroom.
  • How much urine do you pass?
  • The time between bathroom trips.
  • You leak urine accidentally.
  • The amount of liquids you drink.

Bladder training has many benefits. These include:

  • Your bladder is strengthened to improve its ability to hold urine.
  • Between trips to the bathroom, the amount of time is increased.
  • reducing urinary issues, urine leakage, and the need to urinate at night, also known as nocturia
  • Improving quality of life by helping alleviate the stresses associated with OAB

Many people who treat OAB recognize the benefits of bladder training. In fact, in a 2020 survey study involving 213 healthcare professionals, 88 percent reported that they felt bladder training was both important and effective at managing OAB.

“You still have questions about bladder training. Let’s try to address some of these now.”

How does bladder training work?

Bladder training can help strengthen your bladder. This can allow you to hold more urine, which will allow you to reduce the number of trips to the bathroom.

How long does bladder training take?

The exact protocol that’s used for bladder training can vary by healthcare professional. A 2020 review suggests that it generally lasts between 8 and 12 weeks.

Is bladder training effective?

“Bladder training can be effective. Let’s see what the research says.”

An older 2013 study of 85 people with OAB found that bladder training reduced urinary frequency, urinary issues, and nocturia. It also found that bladder training improved quality of life.

A more recent 2018 study on women agreed with these findings. Participants receiving bladder training had improved quality of life, as well as reduced urinary frequency and urine leakage.

The effectiveness of bladder training may also be boosted when it’s combined with other types of treatment. A small 2020 study suggests that bladder training is more effective when combined with biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or both.

Is bladder training safe?

A 2021 review considered behavioral and lifestyle-based treatments for OAB to generally be low risk. This includes bladder training.

You may feel a little uncomfortable holding your urine after adjusting the interval between bathroom trips. Distraction techniques can help you to manage the sensation.

It is important to raise any concerns with your doctor.

Can bladder training cause a UTI?

Sometimes, holding your urine for an extended amount of time can contribute to a UTI. This is because holding your urine too long can allow bacteria to multiply in your urinary tract without being flushed out.

This is not likely to happen with bladder training. It may seem like a long time at first, but the amount of time you hold your urine during bladder training is not that unusual.

Typically, an individual should aim to urinate at least once every 3 to 4 hours, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Achieving this level of urinary frequency is exactly the goal of bladder training.

OAB can be treated with bladder training. It involves teaching your bladder to hold urine for a longer period of time. This will help to lower the number of times you need to use the bathroom.

Bladder training has more than just a regular bathroom routine. Managing fluid intake, distraction techniques, and keeping a diary are some of the things that are included.

Many of the symptoms associated with OAB can be reduced by bladder training. If you have OAB, you should talk to your doctor about how to start bladder training.