Urinary Urgency is the sudden, strong feeling of needing to void or empty the bladder immediately that may result in urine leakage on the way to the bathroom. Urgency tends to occur in waves. It begins, grows in intensity until it peaks, and then subsides and stops until the next wave begins. Frequency often accompanies urgency. It refers to voiding often, typically more than 8 or more times in a 24-hour period.
When you feel urgency, it is important to not rush to the bathroom. Rushing can cause movement that can jiggle your bladder, which then increases the feeling of urgency and the risk of leakage. Wait until the urgency subsides, then walk slowly to the bathroom.
You can take control over your urgency and frequency by using some simple strategies. If you can distract yourself long enough, often the feeling of urgency will pass. It may take some practice with these strategies but over time you will see that you are gaining control and experiencing less episodes of urgency. You may also find that you are now able to delay voiding for longer time periods and can achieve a goal of voiding every 2-3 hours.
When you feel urgency, try these strategies:
- Try to distract yourself by concentrating on another body sensation such as deep breathing. Sit down and take five slow deep breaths. Try to visualize the air moving in and out of your lungs rather than focusing on your bladder sensation.
- Perform five quick, strong pelvic floor muscle contractions (Kegel Exercises). Often, this will relax the bladder so that the feeling of urgency subsides. Alternatively, you could try holding one strong pelvic floor muscle contraction or sitting down and pressing your thighs together. Experiment with which one works best for you.
- Use self-talk when urgency occurs such as "I can wait," "I can conquer this," "My bladder is not full yet," "I can take control," or "I really don't have to go." Create a statement that fits your situation and personality the best. Keep saying this statement over until the feeling urgency passes.
Sometimes you will need to perform several of these strategies to help the feeling of urgency subside. If at first you do not succeed, do not be discouraged. Remember, it takes practice to gain control over urgency. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Report any pain, burning, blood in the urine, or severe pressure to your doctor.
For treatment options see our section on Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation. If you have an overactive bladder, diet and lifestyle issues may be important. There are also medications that may help you. Urodynamic (bladder) testing may be suggested to determine exactly what your problem is. Schedule a consultation at your gynecologist's office soon!
Adapted from Hollister
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