The bladder is a reservoir that sits in the pelvis behind the pubic bone. It inflates and fills with liquid that is processed by body. Once the body registers that there is enough liquid to empty, it will send the message to your brain that it’s time to visit the restroom. Even after you receive that first urge (maybe after holding for 2 to 3 hours), your body should be able to hold at least another 10 to 15 minutes until you can reach a facility. You should still have control. Your bladder doesn’t need to be bossy!
So, where does the liquid come from? The kidneys process waste from the blood and lymphatic systems, turning it into urine. The urine goes down the tubes (ureters) connected to the kidneys and into the bladder.
The bladder is meant to hold a lot. A completely full bladder will take about 16 seconds to empty at the pace of 1 ounce a second. For most people, a normal urination takes between 8 to 10 seconds to void. The flow should sound like a bell curve—steady at first and then softer at the end. This sound indicates that the bladder is contracting and then relaxing. If your “empty time” is less than 8 seconds, then you’re not storing at your maximum. A healthy void cycle is 5 to 8 times in a 24-hour period with a normal fluid intake. Things that can alter this void cycle are diuretics or having bladder complications such as interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome.
The brain and pelvic floor help to keep the bladder in check. Sometimes, Mr. Bladder is overactive. He contracts and says, “I need to go.” Then the pelvic floor relaxes in preparation. But if it’s not time to go, the brain has voluntary control over the pelvic floor. It will have the pelvic floor contract in order to calm the bladder down. So, when you’re in that meeting and can’t get out for another 15 minutes, the brain tells the pelvic floor to settle your bladder down.
When you get older, going to the bathroom one time at night is okay. But if you have a lot of nighttime frequency, that is a problem. You need to ask questions about what is going on in the system. Is there a breakdown somewhere? Is the abdominal wall, pelvic floor, and core muscles helping to support the bladder? Is it a bladder issue?
Sometimes, it comes down solely to diet, rest, and relaxation. We need to drink plenty of water. Not plenty of coffee or coke. Drinking too much coffee and soda will irritate your bladder. Also, you should nourish your body with wholesome foods like vegetables and fruits (not cookies and ice cream). Set a standard sleep schedule, so that your body gets adequate rest. And here’s a biggie—control your stress. The more stressed we get, the more excited the bladder gets. Higher stress excretes hormones that are excitatory which makes the bladder hyper like a little child saying, “What? What? What? How about now? Should we go now?” Then you find yourself going to the bathroom when you don’t have a lot of volume to expel.
Lastly, a healthy bladder is strong. Any leakage is not normal. After you have a baby, you shouldn’t leak. That isn’t normal. After a surgery, you shouldn’t leak or have the inability to void. Those are not normal. As an adult woman or man, you should be able to control your bladder. You should be able to jump on a trampoline without wetting your pants.
If you find that your bladder isn’t fitting into the “normal” category, we can help. Equilibrium Physical Therapy can help you get your body back on track and your bladder will be gladder too. Contact us at 616-345-3778 to set up an appointment today.