Urge Incontinence


Is it better to run to try and make it to the toilet in time or better to sit and ride it out?

run to toilet

Urge Incontinence is where you have a strong urge to pass urine and you lose control of your bladder. This is very different from stress incontinence where leakage occurs with increased abdominal pressure which surpasses the pressure created from the urethra to stop wee from escaping. What generally happens with urgency is that the bladder spasms and makes you feel like you need to empty your bladder immediately.

There are different types of urgency. Some people have urgency when they have triggers like putting the key in the door or hearing running water or hearing their baby cry. Other people have urgency when they take bladder stimulants in their diet. Some people have urgency when their bladder gets to a certain volume. Other people have an overactive pelvic floor to contribute to their urgency.

There are certain things that you can do to minimise or manage your urgency. Some of these things are:

Avoid bladder irritants: For some people, caffeine, fizzy drinks, alcohol, acidic foods like citrus or spicy foods, “diet” foods with artificial sweeteners can all irritate the bladder to spasm and give you urgency.

Drink slowly: Drinking fast makes your bladder fill up quickly which makes it more likely to spasm. Drink slowly rather than skulling down your drinks!

Lose weight: Losing weight, even if its a little bit can reduce incontinence.

Stay calm: The more nervous you are about leaking the more likely you are to leak. This is easier said than done especially if you have had bad experiences before. The urge to rush to the toilet tends to last 10-20 secs. If you can ride it out, the bladder will calm down again and you should be able to get to the toilet with better success. So the answer to the original question is that it is better not to run and wait till the urge sensation finishes and then you can decide whether you still want to go to the toilet or not.

If all these things do not help, you need to see a women’s health physiotherapist. In most cases, surgery will not help this type of incontinence (as opposed to stress incontinence). There are certainly more options available that the physiotherapist can guide you through that can help you get control of your bladder again. Do not let your bladder rule your life. It doesn’t have to be that way. Consult a women’s health physiotherapist for more advice and treatment.