Ask a PT: How to Reduce Urinary Urgency
People experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and pain may also experience urinary urgency. This urgency often impacts their ability to do things we all take for granted, like attend social gatherings and parties. In this article, one of our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists, Susannah Azofeifa, PT, DPT, shares her top 5 tips for reducing urinary urgency.
Here’s a summary of her list:
- Sip fluids throughout the day instead of all at once
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Quick contractions of pelvic floor muscles
- Reduce bladder irritations in your diet
- Distract your brain
Below, Susannah shares details about each one of the techniques in this list.
5 Effective Ways to Reduce Urinary Urgency
Let’s look at each of the tips listed to help reduce urinary urgency. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Maybe we’ll make a video or article to answer your specific question.
1. Sip fluids throughout the day vs. all at once
I typically recommend drinking ~½ your body weight (lbs.) in oz. of fluid per day to stay properly hydrated. If you are very active, this should increase to ensure you are staying hydrated. If you sip throughout the day vs drink a lot at once, this can help to decrease a sudden urge to void.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Deep diaphragmatic breathing can be performed anywhere (sitting, standing, waiting in line at the store, driving, etc.) and it is a very effective way to reduce urgency. During inhalation, the diaphragm dips down into the abdominal cavity and the pelvic floor can more readily relax. During exhalation, the diaphragm raises which is ideal for pelvic floor contraction. This allows the pelvic floor muscles to go through a full range of motion rather than being too tense or too relaxed and causing increased urgency or incontinence.
3. Quick contractions of pelvic floor
As with diaphragmatic breathing, quick contractions of the pelvic floor can help with urgency in the same way. This allows the pelvic floor muscles to move through an optimal range of motion vs. being “too relaxed” or “too overactive” – which can worsen symptoms.
4. Reduce bladder irritants in your diet
Bladder irritants are foods/drinks that can increase the urge to void. Some common, but not all inclusive, bladder irritants include: caffeine, coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, chocolate, tomatoes, citrus. Reducing the amount of these items day to day helps reduce urinary urgency.
5. Distract your brain
This may be the simplest, yet most effective way to decrease urgency. Your brain holds a lot of power when it comes to perception, pain and urgency (see one of our favorite books Why do I Hurt? to learn more).
If you distract your brain and think of other tasks or something that is relaxing, it will take your mind off of the fact that you need to go to the bathroom. This can reduce the occurrences of leakage associated with urgency and increase void intervals if you are going to the bathroom often.
Hopefully this list of 5 tips to reduce urinary urgency provides some insight and practical strategies you can implement in your daily routine. Pelvic floor dysfunction can be difficult to manage. If you live in the area and would like some help, check out our Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy page to learn how we can help.