19 June 2018

Here’s how to train your bladder

You train to increase your physical fitness. So consider training your bladder too; it may decrease your chances of developing urinary incontinence when you are older.

According to Health24, urinary incontinence develops when the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and the bowel, weaken. The weakened pelvic floor muscles cause a loss of control with regards to urine as well as flatulence. The implications of this are partial or total leakage of urine and even uncontrolled bowel moments.

An old bladder can learn new tricks

Training your bladder involves strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Thankfully, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles doesn't involve going to the gym. All you need to do is implement new habits involving your loo breaks. The benefits of training your bladder now, despite not having any problems with incontinence at this stage, is that it will correct possible bad habits you may have. It may also help prevent incontinence later on in life.   

Follow this step-by-step training programme to train your bladder:

Another form of training of the urinary muscles is to pause in mid urination until the stream has completely come to a halt and then continue urinating. Do this multiple times as you relieve yourself – it is a great way to start exercising your pelvic muscles and regain control.

There are four different types of urinary incontinence:

Stress incontinence

The pressure caused by coughing, sneezing or even laughing causes the weakened bladder neck to leak urine. This is often a temporary situation. 

Urge incontinence

This occurs when the bladder cannot hold sufficient volumes of urine and the person feels the immediate urgency to urinate because of the inability to control the bladder.

Overflow incontinence 

This is when the bladder is constantly full to bursting. The kidneys produce urine but there is difficulty urinating, so the bladder fills up quickly. This is caused by an obstruction in the bladder or a dysfunction of the bladder muscle. 

Total incontinence

This happens when there is complete loss of bladder control for a prolonged time. It is more common in the elderly, and affects women more often than men.  

We can form bad habits and not realise that they are detrimental to our health. When you regularly urinate before your bladder is full, you can increase your risk of developing urinary incontinence in the future. When you relieve yourself before your bladder is full you are actually training it not to work properly.

Do you think you are clued up on how often you are supposed to wee? Take this fun quiz to find out.

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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