Do you constantly complain about having a small bladder? Are you the person in your friend group who is constantly making toilet trips on a day out?
Instead of claiming you have a “small bladder”, it may be time to think about the reason why you don’t hold much urine. Most people who claim they have a small bladder actually have an overactive bladder. People often avoid seeking help because they brush it off as having a “small bladder”. Internal organs tend to be a similar size for everyone, so it is actually very unlikely that anyone has a smaller sized bladder. As specialist DR Kavaler states, “there is no such thing as a small bladder unless the person has had surgery to reduce the size for cancer”. The normal bladder volume is the size of a soft drink can. Most experts agree that if you visit the toilet over seven times a day, it is worth talking to a professional?
The taboo of incontinence means that many people either joke about the topic or completely avoid visiting a Doctor. Men, in particular, often avoid talking to a professional about the topic, even if it becomes life-changing. Gordon Muir, Consultant Urologist at King’s College Hospital claims, “men will just not talk about it, so no-one really knows the true extent.” There is actually no reason to carry on with life and pass it off as a “small bladder”. Visiting the toilet should not get in the way of your normal functioning or social activities. Finding the cause, even if it is small, can improve your quality of life.
What is Causing you to Urinate?
Consuming Bladder Irritants
It might seem obvious; however, you should consider whether what you eat or drink affects your bladder. Are you drinking tons of water or consuming too much caffeine? You are not abnormal if caffeine causes you to urinate more, as it is a natural bladder irritant. Sugar is also an irritant, so it may be that you are drinking too many of these drinks. Spicy foods and citrus fruits can also irritate the bladder, so it may be these foods that are causing excessive urination.
Your Pelvic Floor Muscles are Weak
Understanding how bladder control is achieved can be useful when finding a cause. Your pelvic floor is made up of muscle fibers of the levator ani, the coccygeus muscle and connective tissue. This is vital for providing support for the bladder and maintaining continence. There are lifestyle habits or health factors that can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. This means it is more difficult for your muscles to control urination.
Smoking can cause people to urinate more, as the bladder can become irritated by the chemicals in tobacco smoke. A chronic cough caused by smoking also puts increased pressure on the bladder, weakening the muscles. Similarly, being significantly overweight places increased stress on your pelvic floor muscles. It also increases the pressure in the abdomen, overpowering the pressure created by the pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy and incontinence is a common health complaint, due to the pressure of the uterus on the bladder. You can read more about pregnancy and incontinence here.
Your Medication is Affecting your Bladder
Some medications for certain illnesses are actually proven to increase urination frequency. The following are some medications known to trigger incontinence:
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Some sedatives
If this is the case, a Doctor can determine whether there are any alternatives suitable for you. They will also provide you with management tips on training your bladder.
It is Related to a Neurological Problem
There are also health problems that can increase your risk of developing incontinence, such as a spinal cord deformity or injury.
If you are aware that you have a nervous system abnormality, this may be causing your overactive bladder. The following conditions increase the risk of an overactive bladder:
Studies have also shown that psychological stress and the bladder are actually related. Excess worrying and having an unusually hectic schedule can actually cause the limbic system to override brain signals that curb our desire to urinate. Michael Ingber, New Jersey-based urologist states, “there are several studies which confirm that stress plays a role in worsening urinary frequency”.
What to do Next
If your bladder is getting in the way of your quality of life, visit a Doctor. They hear about this issue on a regular basis, so don’t be worried about this. They will ask you about any triggers that cause you to urinate more and will try to find an underlying cause. A Doctor will also recommend any lifestyle changes. If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, you may be asked to practise exercises. You can read how to do pelvic floor exercises here.
When Should you Seek Urgent Help?
You should seek urgent medical care in the following circumstances:
You experience pain during urination
You have blood in your urine
You have incontinence that is severe and has occurred suddenly