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Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Bladder

Did you know the average bladder can hold 2 cups of urine before it needs to be emptied? That means that even if you are drinking the recommended 6-8 8ounces of water per day you should not be urinating less than every 2 hours or an average of 6 to 8 times per day. That includes night time. It is true, however, that as we get older our bladder capacity can get smaller and we may need to pass urine more frequently but usually not more than 2 hours. Urine should flow easily without discomfort or straining. In other words you should NOT have to push urine out to completely empty. Voiding should be more about relaxing and not about effort. An urge is a signal that you feel as the bladder stretches to fill with liquid. Urges can be felt even if the bladder is not full. An urge is NOT a command to go to the toilet. A urinary urge is merely a signal and CAN be controlled. Going to the bathroom every time you feel an urge creates bad bladder habits and can contribute to a weak pelvic floor.

So what are GOOD bladder habits? Most importantly…TAKE YOUR TIME. Give yourself time to sit on the toilet, relax, and completely empty your bladder. Feeling a strong urge to urinate an hour later might be a sign that you are not emptying fully. Do not strain or push each time you pass urine; this can create significant weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and contribute to a prolapse.  On the other hand, consistently ignoring the urge to go, waiting more than 4 hours between toileting, may be convenient but is not a healthy bladder habit. Overstretching the bladder can be just as detrimental as under filling. Avoid  “jicing” or “Just In Case” peeing. (You know who you are!) Urinating without an urge just because you are going to be in the car for 2o minutes is not necessary and can create confusing signals. Try to go only when your bladder is full. Urgency and Frequency of urination can be improved by retraining the bladder and spacing your fluid intake. Limiting you fluid intake is NOT a healthy approach to this problem. Do limit the amount of caffeine and citrus food and beverage intake. These, as well as alcohol, irritate the bladder and will increase urge and frequency. Avoid constipation by maintaining a balanced diet of fiber including fruits and vegetables. Practice good habits and do not let your bladder control your life.(Progressive Therapeutics, 2004, UI Manual)

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