What are “normal” bladder habits?

June 21, 2023

People often discuss urinary urgency and frequency as well as bladder leaks. However, it can be challenging to determine what is considered normal in these areas. How can we distinguish whether we might be developing a pelvic floor issue, or if our urgency or frequency is within a typical range? Many individuals wonder if their frequent trips to the bathroom are a result of drinking ample amounts of water, which is considered normal. In this video, Brittany Kapiello, a pelvic floor physical therapist with over 20 years of experience, addresses these questions and sheds light on what constitutes normal bladder function.

Defining normal when it comes to the bladder can be subjective because everyone has their own baseline. Nevertheless, there are certain general indicators of normality that can serve as a guide to assess whether there may be a pelvic floor issue or if one’s current situation is within a typical range.

The frequency of bathroom visits is a common concern. People often ask, “How often should I be going to the bathroom?” Some individuals find themselves in the restroom every half hour, while others go every hour due to their high water intake. It’s important to consider the recommended guidelines. According to textbooks and my professional experience, it is generally advised to fully empty the bladder every three to four hours. However, it’s crucial to note that this may not be feasible for everyone.

When working with clients experiencing urgency, frequency, or other bladder issues, I often aim for a urination frequency of every two to three hours. This range is still considered within the normal realm, especially for those who consume a significant amount of water through hydrating beverages and water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. If you fall within this range, it is typically acceptable from a clinical standpoint. However, urinating less frequently than every two hours could indicate urinary frequency, except when excessive fluid intake is the cause.
Let me share an example from my practice. I once had a client who visited the bathroom every 30 minutes to an hour, which was starting to disrupt her daily activities. Upon discussing her fluid intake, she revealed that she consumed an excessive amount of water, approximately 180 ounces per day. Remember, the general guideline for hydration is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Therefore, someone weighing 150 pounds should aim for 75 ounces per day. Considering her size and the additional fluids from food, her water consumption far exceeded the recommended amount.

I suggested that she reduce her fluid intake to see if it made a difference. However, she was reluctant because she enjoyed drinking water and liked the amount she was consuming. I explained that excessive fluid intake would naturally lead to frequent bathroom visits as the body needs to eliminate the excess liquid. It’s essential to make a conscious decision regarding fluid intake since drinking such excessive amounts will inevitably result in increased bathroom trips.

If you suspect that you visit the bathroom frequently, it may be helpful to maintain a bladder diary. Simply record what you eat and drink throughout the day, as well as each instance of urination, urgency, or bladder leaks. Analyzing this information will provide insights into your frequency patterns and help identify if hydration is a contributing factor.
Remember, the concept of “normal” varies from person to person, but understanding the general guidelines for bladder function can be useful. If you have concerns about urinary urgency, frequency, or any bladder-related issues, consulting a healthcare professional, such as a pelvic floor physical therapist, can provide personalized guidance and support.

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