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How To Hold In The Urge To Pee

Hi friends! Have you ever been going about your day when you get a sudden urge to go to the bathroom? The urge might feel like if your bladder isn’t going to wait for you to get to the toilet before it empties itself. If this urge happens frequently, you may be dealing with overactive bladder (OAB) and this can lead to urge urinary incontinence (leakage). There are many ways we can treat overactive bladder and deal with strong, sudden urges to pee. One of these ways is with urge delay techniques.

Urge delay techniques are a way to calm the muscle of the bladder to ease the urge and stop leaks to allow you time to get to the bathroom. As always, this is not medical advice and does not replace evaluation by a healthcare provider.

When you get a sudden and strong urge to go the first thing to remember is to remain calm. Think back to how long it has been since the last time you went to the bathroom. If it has been less than two hours, your bladder is likely less than half full. Follow these tips to help you hold it in longer.

  • Stop what you are doing, sit down, and try some of the techniques below. Do not give into the urge and rush to the bathroom. Rushing can make the urgency worse and potentially lead to leakage.

  • Take slow deep breaths. This will help to keep you and your body calm to prevent leakage.

  • Perform 5 quick, but strong, pelvic floor muscle contractions. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles will cause a reflex that helps the muscle of the bladder to relax (and will stop the urge to go). (Note: if you’re pelvic floor muscles are weak or you are unable to contract them this technique will not work well. seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can help.)

  • Apply pressure to the perineal area (the area around the vagina/vulva). This can help to reduce the urgency. Children often do this instinctively when they need to pee.

  • Use mental distraction. There are many different distraction techniques you can use to help with the urge. You can try counting backwards by 7s, making a shopping list, checking your email, calling a friend, etc. Try different techniques to see what works best for you, but the ultimate goal is to get your brain to think about something besides getting to the bathroom to pee.

After the urge has gone away, continue with whatever activity you were doing. When using urge delay techniques, be patient but consistent. You may find that initially you are having more leakage or urgency, but with practice you will be able to retrain your brain and your bladder to go when and where YOU want.

If you’re not sure where to start, a good pelvic physical therapist can help guide you. You can find one on under “Find a PT”.

Watch the video below to learn how to train you pelvic floor muscles to pee when and where you choose

To learn more about your pelvic floor muscles, check out these great resources:

For providers, check our online courses to help your clients with urinary urgency and incontinence. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!

Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT


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