Urinary frequency, urgency, and urge incontinence are multifaceted symptoms and conditions that can have a significantly negative impact on a person’s life. There are many causes for them, including physical and behavioral. Fortunately, these are things that we can have an impact on. The contents of this blog will help you understand some of the causes of urinary frequency, urgency and urge incontinence, and help you identify potential triggers and solutions to your symptoms.
Symptoms and Conditions
Urinary urgency: an intense feeling or urge to urinate that comes suddenly and can be quite powerful. It can feel impossible to resist, meaning you have to go NOW. Urinary urgency does not always mean that there is a urinary leak.
Urinary frequency: a person's chronic need to urinate more frequently than every 2-3 hours.
Urge incontinence: similar to urinary urgency in that people experience a strong and sudden urge to go to the toilet. The main difference is that in urge incontinence, you may not be able to make it to the toilet in time because of the strong and sudden urge. This can lead to urinary leakage.
Why Does Urinary Urgency Occur
· Our bladder usually tells our brain its time to empty when the bladder is full
· In urinary urgency, the brain becomes more sensitive to the bladder’s signals, responding to less and less stimulus (ie. The bladder being less and less full)
· This can occur when we train the bladder to empty before it is completely full (ex: I better go before leaving the house, just in case!)
· This can also occur when we ignore our bladder’s signals and delay emptying for too long
· This confuses the brain, as it can no longer tell when the bladder is reliably full, resulting in the sudden and strong urge associated with urgency
How we can create change
Your nervous system is plastic, which means that over time your neural circuitry can adapt, change, and adopt new habits. To make this happen, you need to make small changes that will, over time, make a big difference in your symptoms.
Urinary Management Plan
Step 1 - Bladder diary
This helps us identify when we are going to the toilet, and help us track change
Step 2: - Identify Triggers
a. Toileting Habits (Ex: ‘I should go, just in case’, Running water to initiate voiding/mask sound)
b. Water intake: Drinking too much at once, or being dehydrated
c. Fluids (caffeine, carbonation, sweeteners, alcohol)
d. State of mind (stress, anxiety)
e. Tissue Tension (pelvic floor muscles or other tissues surrounding the bladder being too tight)
Step 3: Tailored Urgency Management Plan
This is where you can make the change. Coming up with a tailored and specialized plan that helps you delay the urgency to urinate will help you gain control over the urgency. It is when we are able to create space between the stimulus (urgency) and our response to the stimulus (going to the bathroom) that we are able to create change in our nervous system. As time goes on, urgency dampens, and we gain control again.
Ready to regain control?
Our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists can help you identify, manage, and start the journey to resolve your urinary frequency, urgency, and urge incontinence conditions today.
We highly encourage you to contact us for a 15 minute Free Phone Consultation. One of our specialized Pelvic Floor Physiotherapists will discuss your concerns with you, and help you determine whether this is the best course of treatment.