All Health's Breaking Loose: Just hold it

Enjoying life to its fullest means making the most of our time. With today's article, I'm hoping to free up some time for you and simultaneously improve your health. So, I'll ask you; how much time do you spend running to the bathroom each day? We've talked about many other parts of your body in this column and it's time we gave the all-important bladder its 15 minutes of fame.

You may have learned the habit of going "just in case" when you were a child. But all that "going" may be preventing the bladder from doing its main job — storing urine. Your bladder can hold approximately 500 ml of urine. At 150 ml you'll have a slight urge to urinate that can be easily ignored. When you hit 400 ml, there is a sense of fullness that really gets your attention. If you can just hold on, you'll do yourself a favor.

The bladder is a hollow reservoir with sensors in the walls that detect internal pressure. Once every minute or so, the tiny muscles inside the ureters, the tubes that help move urine from the kidneys to the bladder, contract in a synchronized progression. They "wring themselves out," expelling all they have stored. I am always amazed at the many functions of the body that take place every minute without our even giving it a thought. Here again is one of them: Every minute, about 1 ml. of urine flows into the bladder and is stored there waiting for you to "go."

If you run to the bathroom every time you feel that first urge, you are preventing the bladder from the important function of storage. If going too often (once every 20 minutes or so) becomes a habit, the bladder can become unstable. A condition known as "detrusor instability" may occur. Going too often sends messages to the brain that can create a cycle of needing to pass urine even though the bladder is only partly full.

Keep your bladder in good shape by using it correctly. As you "go," empty your bladder completely. Then just hold it until it is full again. Regular exercise, especially core work such as Pilates, will keep you leaner and stronger in the mid section — not just on the outside, but inside as well. Strong muscles throughout the core help to hold internal organs in place. Exercise is a great preventative for incontinence.

Dr. William Reynolds, a local urologist, says, "Urinating a large volume frequently means you've been drinking a lot of water. Urinating a small volume frequently means there may be a problem, like getting up several times at night. This is not normal and should be checked." He recommends staying away from alcohol and caffeine, as they are irritants to the bladder and will worsen any bladder problem.

Retrain your bladder to register fullness only when it is actually full (holding more than 300ml). Practice "holding it," and after a while, it will stop sensing fullness when it is holding only a small amount. For most people, this will bring back normal bladder habits. You can once again enjoy a full night's sleep and have some extra time each day to enjoy life outside the bathroom.

I'll see you in two weeks,

Love and health,


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