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Do I Have An Overactive Bladder?

Ask yourself:

o Do I feel the need to be near a washroom in public to prepare for the inevitable pee break?

o Do I pee more than 8 times a day?

o Do I lose control of my bladder before I finish unbuttoning my pants at the toilet?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you likely have an Overactive Bladder.


What is an Overactive Bladder?

An Overactive Bladder (OAB) is the frequent and sudden urgency to urinate. Often, people will even have some leakage on their way to the toilet and/or when they’re pulling down their pants to go. Once you start urinating, you may even find that there’s barely any urine, despite the extreme urgency you feel. Due to the increased frequency, extreme urgency and small amount of urine expelled, many people confuse OAB with having a small bladder.

What is going on in the Bladder?

When a bladder is working as it should, the muscle that surrounds the bladder will expand as it is filled with urine, while the pelvic floor muscles contract to make sure no urine leaks out – kind of like the tap on your sink. When the body is ready to urinate, the bladder muscle starts to contract and the pelvic floor muscles relax to open the tap and expel the urine.

If you have OAB, the bladder muscle is contracting and squeezing too often, which causes you to feel like you need to pee. If we give in to the urgency every time we feel it, then our body starts to make a habit of urinating more frequently, we create more urgencies and the nasty cycle continues!

What can you do about it?

Behavioural Training

It is important to retrain the bladder so it learns to expand and hold more urine. To do this, we need to apply inhibition techniques. Let’s say you urinated 15 minutes ago and feel another urgency already. Try to push off the urgency, since you know it’s highly unlikely you need to empty your bladder already. To do this, you need to get our mind off of your bladder. Here are a couple useful inhibition techniques to try:

  • Mental distraction (e.g., counting down from 100 by 7s, singing a song etc.)

  • Do a kegel then relax the pelvic floor muscles, which sends inhibitory messages to the brain

  • Heel raises or calf stretches (the nerve that activates our calf muscles also activates our bladder area)

  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing

Take Control of your Bladder

Remember, you are in control of your bladder, it’s not in control of you! Here are some steps to regain that control:

Before you head to the washroom, try these techniques:

  • When you first feel the urgency, stay still and sit if you can

  • Practice your diaphragmatic breathing to calm yourself

  • If you’re still unable to control the urgency, try performing a few kegels (remember, this tells the brain that you don’t have to pee!)

Once you feel that you’re in control, walk to the washroom – do not run!

  • Remain in control while removing your clothing by following some behavioural training techniques

Avoid Bladder Irritants

Certain foods can irritate the bladder lining, causing increased muscle spasms. Foods to avoid include:

  • Caffeinated beverages

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Citric beverages and foods

  • Artificial sweeteners


Need a little extra help to determine if you have an overactive bladder? Book a free initial consult with one of our pelvic health physiotherapists today

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