Bladder Training and Urge Control

Bladder Training

Bladder training helps you increase the amount of time between visits to the toilet, increase the amount your bladder can hold, and control the feelings of urgency when the bladder contracts unnecessarily.

The best place to start is to limit substances that can irritate the bladder as outlined in the Healthy Bladder Habits section.

Part of this training is learning to understand the messages your bladder is sending you. You need to learn which messages to listen to and which ones to ignore. A bladder training program should help you recognize when your bladder is full and when it is not.

It may have taken weeks, months or even years to establish these bad habits so it will take time to fix the problem. Be encouraged, most people notice some improvement within 2 weeks although it may take 3 months or more to regain bladder control.


You should go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours during the day. If you are going more frequently, you need to try and increase the time between visits to the toilet. For example if you are going every hour set your target at an hour and 15 minutes. If you get the feeling of urgency before that time is up try techniques from the section below to control this feeling and make your bladder wait.

Urge control techniques

  1. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles as hard as you can and hold on for as long as you can. Keep doing this until the feeling of urgency goes away or is under control. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles helps to squeeze the urethra (the tube from the bladder) shut and prevent leakage.
  2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles quickly and as hard as you can, then let go. Repeat this several times in a row. Some women find that several contractions in a row work better than trying to hold onto one contraction for a long time.
  3. Put firm pressure on the pelvic floor. You can do this by crossing your legs or sitting down on a firm surface. This also sends a message to the bladder via the nerves that the outlet from the bladder is closed so it should wait before it tries to empty.
  4. Place a rolled up towel between your legs to support the pelvic floor before standing to help with urine loss.
  5. Change your position if this decreases the feeling of urgency. Some people find that leaning forward a little helps.
  6. Stay still when you get an urgent bladder contraction and control the urge.

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Last Updated December 23, 2016 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada