Think you have a weak bladder? Athlete and coach for The Well Baz moffat reveals 9 tips on how to manage bladder weakness symptoms
Many women suffer from what they reasonably describe as bladder weaknesses – being unable to hold on or having to go to the toilet all the time.
It’s also a term used for leaking urine for example when you run, shout, sneeze, jump or dance – but right off the bat, I want to not use this term.
Bladders are not weak. Stick with me and I’m going to go through everything you need to know about achieving optimal bladder health.
Let’s start with the basics, the bladder itself is an empty sack, which is there to collect urine from the kidneys, as the urine drips in the bladder starts to expand and that’s when we start to get an urge to go to the loo.
We’ll start to get this urge at around 150ml of urine, but this is just a ‘hello, I could do with a wee’ type message, there’s generally no urgency here.
The Bladder can hold up to around 500ml of urine
The urine keeps dripping in and the brain will receive a slightly stronger message next time and then we consciously make the decision to go or not.
The Bladder can hold up to around 500ml of urine but you would be really desperate at this stage.
Optimal bladder health looks like this:
- Getting an urge to go to the loo
- Responding to that urge 5 -7 times a day
- Going 0 -1 at night time
- Emptying your bladder for 8 -12s, which is around 200 – 300ml of urine
This is the aim, what most of us should be able to achieve – however for one reason or another many of us don’t do this and may suffer from…
Going little and often
Some women go 15 to 20 times a day and multiple times during the night, they go before they leave the house, when they get back in, before they go into a meeting, when they arrive in a café – in this scenario you’re overly sensitive to your bladder or just not listening to it at all.
Some women go 15 to 20 times a day and multiple times during the night
So instead of waiting until there is a reasonable amount of urine to empty you’re going all the time.
The issue with this is that as we age the pelvic floor muscles are going to get weaker and so when we’re younger we want to form good habits and have a pelvic floor which can hold up the weight of a bladder with around 200-300ml in, not 50ml.
If this sounds like you here are a couple of suggestions:
- Start a noting down how often you go – get a benchmark and if you’re going 12 times a day start going ten times, then eight then six over a couple of weeks, trust yourself that you can hang on a bit longer.
- Pause and think when you get an urge to go – when was the last time you went, can you hold on for 20 minutes more?
- Do your pelvic floor exercises: Pelvic Floor FAQ’s – here’s what you need to know
- Look at removing potential bladder irritants from your diet such as alcohol, caffeine or sugar (but the first three points are the most important ones initially)
Having an iron bladder
The opposite of the above is never going – this is really common as well and especially in professions which struggle to find time to go to the toilet, such as nurses, teachers, shop assistants.
Often this comes with a badge of honour – ‘I can hold on all day’, ‘I never need the loo’ however if this is you, it’s important to start changing this habit.
as we age our soft tissue becomes less elastic and so the bladder does not bounce back
The issue with never going is that the bladder will be overfilling, so it will be stretching regularly beyond what it is designed to do.
When you’re young and have healthy connective tissue, which bounces back this is fine but as we age our soft tissue becomes less elastic and so the bladder does not bounce back and becomes what’s called a floppy bladder, and nobody wants a floppy bladder!
If this sounds like you here are some suggestions:
- Set an alarm to go to the loo every three hours whether you want to or not.
- Go to the loo and relax your tummy and take your time.
- Drink plenty of herbal teas / water – up your intake if you know you’ve not been drinking enough.
- Start to respond to your urges to go as opposed to overriding them and deciding not to go.
- Do your pelvic floor exercises but focus on the relaxing and the releasing in-between the exercises not just the lifting and strengthening.
As with everything if you’re concerned in anyway then please do check in with your GP and do not be embarrassed to talk about these issues with them.
It’s a total game changer when we have good bladder health and something that nearly every woman should be capable of achieving.
Baz Moffat is The Coach for The Well, providing health, well-being and performance support for women based on the science of the female body.
More Healthista Content:
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.