The bladder is a unique organ. It can sometimes be called a vesical and is lined with a smooth muscle called the detrusor muscle. This smooth muscle is involuntarily controlled – meaning that you cannot consciously control it. Remember that nervous system we just went over in the previous blog? Yes, that one. That is a key component in the function of your bladder!
We are not going to break down the full neurological steps in bladder control and review Gray’s Anatomy. However, let’s go over the basics for you to understand. The bladder wall is very “stretchy”, think of how a water balloon expands as it fills! There is a sphincter inside the bladder, and we will call it the “inside gate”. There is also an external (outside) sphincter that is a pelvic floor muscle, and we will call that the “outside gate”
Throughout the day as you drink and eat, your body digests, and your kidneys filter! Your body is always busy doing something. As your kidneys filter into your bladder it begins to expand and fill. Now as your bladder expands and fills up – it is going to send you little signals as it gets fuller.
You know those moments where you catch yourself thinking “Oh I need to go, but it can wait”. Then a few minutes or an hour passes by and then, you think, “Okay where is the bathroom, I need to gooo”.
THEN you hit that point of squeezing your knees together and wobbly running to find the bathroom because if you do not make it – you WILL pee yourself.
Yeah, all of those are signals that your bladder is telling your brain that it is time to go!
It is completely normal to have that exact progression of urges. So “urges” are what we call those signals, and sometimes if your bladder is a little too excited – it can create what we call urgency.
Urgency is defined as a strong desire to void: to go pee. Please remember that your bladder has the capacity to hold up to 15-19 ounces. That’s a lot! The average woman should be going to the bathroom 5-8 times per 24 hours.
When the bladder fills, and it’s time to go to the bathroom you should intentionally relax your pelvic floor after you sit down (assuming I’m talking to women here). When you relax your pelvic floor – there is a cool neurological reflex that triggers that involuntary muscle of the bladder to contract! This is what helps push the urine from the bladder, out of the urethra.
I have had this question/statement asked to me more times than I care to admit, but yes folks. The urethra is different than the vagina. Your urine is not coming out of your vagina.
What I hope you can take away from this is that the bladder is closely tied to the pelvic floor. The exit gate is a pelvic floor muscle – and when you go to the bathroom you should RELAX your pelvic floor to help fully empty your bladder! Remember, your bladder may send you signals and make you think that you can’t make it – but you can! (9 times out of 10)
Interested to hear about common bladder dysfunctions? Stay tuned for next week’s blog!
Action Step: Do you know how often you go to the bathroom in 24 hours? Try logging it for 1-2 days and see what your result is!