We all know what potty training is for toddlers. We desire them to learn how to go to the bathroom in the toilet instead of in a diaper, so we “train” them to adjust their behavior concerning bladder and bowel habits. The same principal applies when you are trying to control bladder habits for those who are experiencing incontinence. The bladder needs to be trained to adjust to certain lifestyle changes.
When you suffer from incontinence you can actually train your bladder to send out frequent urge signals. You become so aware of your leakage problem that every time you feel the slightest twinge that you may have to go, you rush to empty your bladder. This “trains” your bladder to need to be emptied frequently. This training can inadvertently occur when you frequent the bathroom “just to check to be sure” that you don’t have to go so that you can avoid any possible “accidents”. This checking behavior is training your bladder to need to be emptied frequently. Over time this “training” starts to give the message to the brain that there is a new “full” criteria and now you really feel the urge to urinate based on this new “full” criteria which in actuality you are not full, but your body is not trained to think that it is and so it gives the signal that you are full, when you are not.
To make the lifestyle change and re-train your bladder the pattern must reverse itself. You do this by setting up a bathroom schedule. You set a time to go to the bathroom that is longer than you are currently and gradually increase the time between bathroom breaks until you are going every 3 to 4 hours. This training will give your bladder the corrected feeling of “full” and you will again gain control over the urge to urinate when you bladder is actually full.
How to set the training pattern:
To determine what time to set the first bathroom break to do this:
Keep a bathroom journal for a few days where you jot down the time that you urinate. Bring the diary in to your healthcare visit and your physician will help you to set up the first bathroom break schedule and the increments to move the time up to from that point on (usually 15 minute intervals weekly).
The next step is to do your best to stick to the bathroom break schedule that you set up. Whether or not you have to urinate, stick to the schedule.
The schedule starts immediately upon waking. When you wake, immediately go to the bathroom and from that point the time schedule kicks in.
Try your best to stick to the schedule. If you really have to break the set time, then afterwards, get right back on track.
Increase your bathroom times slowly so that you can achieve success. Increasing by 15 minute intervals on a weekly basis until you reach 3 to 4 hours in between bathroom breaks is ideal.