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The Importance of Managing Urinary Urgency: Tips for When You Have to Go NOW

November is Bladder Health Month, so it’s only natural that we talk about urinary function and dysfunction! Something we hear far too often from people is that they have to drop everything and run because there is such a sense of urgency to use the restroom. If this resonates with you, we want you to know that although this is a common problem with many, it is NOT NORMAL and it can be helped! So, how do you know for sure that you are dealing with urinary urgency?

If you notice yourself throwing your things to the side as soon as you walk in the door to make it to the bathroom, you are likely dealing with urinary urgency. If you hear running water, and then you, yourself are running to the nearest bathroom, you are likely dealing with urinary urgency. Urinary urgency is typically a sudden and intense need to use the bathroom and can lead to leakage if you are unable to get to the bathroom quick enough.

Normally, you should not have such a sense of urgency to use the restroom. Here are some tips and tricks to help you manage urinary urgency.

  1. Stop what you are doing and sit down, if possible.

  2. Relax by taking several deep breaths to settle your body and decrease urgency.

  3. Rub your hands together (hand warming) to also settle your body and nervous system.

Sometimes it feels like the urge is so strong that if you delay going to the bathroom for even a second you might experience leakage. It might be a good idea to practice some of these techniques in the comfort of your own home first to get used to the idea of delaying using the bathroom. You might be surprised with how quickly the urge suppresses and your bladder “forgets” that it has to go. You can also try these tricks BEFORE the urge occurs, such as when you have been running errands too long and predict you will have urgency when you are on the way into your house or to the bathroom. You will probably still have to use the bathroom, but the sense of urgency will be less and hopefully you won't experience urine leakage getting there. Once you gain confidence in your ability to override your bladder, you will not have to rush.

What causes an "overactive bladder" or the urgent need to urinate? There are many reasons you might experience urgency. Medical causes could be a kidney stone or urinary tract infection. Urgency might be caused by a conditioned response, like when you get out of the car when you arrive home, known as key in the door syndrome. Feeling stressed might also cause urgency. Ever notice how you have to urinate more when you are nervous, like running late to an appointment or about to give a presentation? Another cause of urgency is the consumption of bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, some citrus foods like tomatoes and even concentrated urine (not hydrating enough). Tight abdominal, hip or pelvic floor muscles might also be at the root of your bladder being confused. Addressing all of the causes is part of pelvic floor physical therapy.

If you have tried the techniques above and continue to struggle with urgency and after medical causes have been ruled out, it is time to seek the help of a pelvic floor therapist. How can pelvic floor physical therapy help? Therapists trained in the pelvic floor can identify tight muscles or entrapped nerves that are contributing to the problem. Pelvic floor therapists will also teach you how to retrain your bladder as well as relax your pelvic floor as Kegels alone are not the only solution and bladder medication is expensive and comes with side effects. For more information or to schedule a FREE consult with one of our pelvic floor experts, call (330)528-0034 so you can get back to enjoying what matters without the worry of bladder control issues.

written by Regina Saxon - November 2022


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