How often you "go" could cause bladder issues
It's not a topic usually discussed at the water cooler while drinking the recommended amount of water a day, and not something to bring up at the dinner table every night. But how many trips you take to the bathroom every day is something to be mindful of throughout the day. In fact, how often you empty your bladder could actually lead to bladder control issues later.
How the bladder works
The bladder can be described as a balloon that holds fluid. Now imagine that this balloon is surrounded by muscles. Since muscles need to stretch and move to be flexible, the ability of the bladder to hold fluid can decrease if it isn't stretched enough.
By emptying the bladder too frequently, the bladder does not get stretched enough. When the bladder muscle gets used to being smaller, it can become unhappy when it is stretched, causing it to contract too soon. When the bladder contracts, it sends a signal to you that it is time to go the bathroom.
By frequently emptying the bladder, the bladder shrinks and becomes more sensitive to being stretched. This can become a vicious cycle that can lead to urine loss prior to reaching the bathroom.
What is the typical desired frequency for bathroom trips?
- During the day: 5-8 times, approximately once every 2-4 hours
- During the night: 0-1 times
- Consistently using the bathroom less than every 2 hours can cause the bladder to become over-reactive.
What can I do for this?
Avoid reducing your water intake if you find you are going to the bathroom too frequently. The bladder can become irritated if the urine becomes too acidic. Bladder irritation can cause the bladder to contract before it has filled, which can lead to the sensation of needing to urinate too soon.
Avoid the top three bladder irritants: caffeine, artificial sweeteners and alcohol. When the bladder becomes irritated, it can contract early and give you the signal that you need to empty your bladder before it is full.
Slowly increase the amount of time between bathroom trips. As the bladder is a muscle, if you try to stretch it too much too soon, it will contract. To avoid this, increase the amount of time you wait until you go to the bathroom by 15 minute increments every week until you reach a minimum of 2 hours (Note: Longer than 4 hours can also cause problems). If you find that you are having difficulty with this or that you are having leakage, you might want to talk to your physician about seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist.
About the Author
Dr. Tiffany Bertolacci specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation and the treatment of multiple sclerosis. She has over 8 years of physical therapy experience. Tiffany is also a mom of two who has recently rediscovered her love of running, competing in distance events ranging from 5K to Half-Marathons. 10K is her favorite distance to run.