614-850-0500 office@theactivept.com

“When I have to go, I have to go!”

Urge Incontinence vs Stress Incontinence

Urge: Is the STRONG feeling of needing to void urine, so convincing that if you don’t go right then you may have an accident.

Stress: Is the leakage when you exert effort or over stress. For example, leaking when you cough, sneeze, run or jump.

Bladder 101:

Your bladder can hold approximately 16 oz of fluid, and once is nears full, it sends a single to the brain than its time to go to the bathroom. Normal voiding is anywhere between 5-6x per day in intervals of 3-4 hours (during waking hours) with the ability to hold it during an 8 hour sleep.

Most people assume that incontinence means you just need to “do more kegals” or in other words strengthen your pelvic floor. WRONG.

A common misconception on urgency is that it is due to weakness in the pelvic floor muscles, when it is typically the opposite, causes by an overactive pelvic floor. Why would your pelvic floor be overactive you ask? Your pelvic floor has a job to do, just like any other muscle in your body. Sometimes when other muscles aren’t holding up their end of the job (ie the core) the pelvic floor has to pick up the slack in an attempt to stabilize the body. The pelvic floor has a direct link to the bladder and can increase the URGE to go. The bladder then gets confused and becomes an unreliable source, in telling you it has to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW, or else.

Other things that affect bladder health:

Caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods, carbonated drinks, and dehydration.

You may notice your urgency is worse in the morning after your cup of coffee or after a period of not drinking (while asleep).

How to retrain your Bladder

What to do and NOT do when I have the urge?

DON’T: Most Importantly, try NOT to go to the bathroom when you get a strong urge. Every time you void when you have the urge, you are telling your bladder it’s okay to void when it’s not full

DO: Keep a bladder log- you cannot retrain your bladder if you don’t have a record of your habits. Do you go every hour? Every hour and a half? Once you see a trend you can start to build off that time

Example: Voiding every 1 hour and 15 minutes (Average)- Try increasing by 5 or 10 minutes the next day and continue to add time every few days

DO: Get the urge to go away: usually this means STOPPING what you are doing, standing still or sitting down. DEEP BREATHING. Then trying to resume your activity to get your mind off it for (Said) time, then slowly and calmly walking to the bathroom.


  • Deep Breathing (through your diaphragm)
  • Curl toes and squeeze your butt (this helps to turn off the nerve to the bladder and trick the brain)
  • Hip/Pelvic circles (changing your strategy/posture to turn off the urge)
  • Leaning hands against a wall (this allows for a deep breath and for the diaphragm to relax)

Do you struggle with stress or urge incontinence? Call 614-850-0500 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Missy Gallow.

Email mgallow@activeptcolumbus.com

Written by Dr. Missy Gallow



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