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Myths and Legends

The subject of normal bladder control has been often surrounded by myths and legends. As a child I remember being told not to hold on as it was bad for me, to always go to the toilet just in case and use one when you saw it and to never sit on a public toilet seat - for fear of getting an infection or worse. All of these little gems of advice I later found out were just stories, myths, old wives tales.

Knowing what is "normal" for our bladder control as a subject, may not come up in polite family conversation over the dinner table - but if it did I am sure that many bladder problems or misconceptions could be resolved or corrected.

If you drink a "normal " amount of fluid a day - about 30ml/kilogram of weight or the average 6-8 cups of fluid a day, it would be normal to go to the toilet every three, four or five hours (working out to be about four -seven times/day) and getting up only zero to once at night. So it is okay to hold on...although there are some fluids that can influence that ability to hold on - caffeine based drinks - tea, coffee, coke, and alcohol are all examples of drinks that can irritate the bladder.

Drinking water is excellent however you can not hold for three hours if you have just drained 600mls of water in one hit!!

Going to the toilet just in case is not a good toilet habit. Going just before bed or before a long trip when access to a toilet may be difficult is okay but popping to the littlest room every time you pass it can develop into real problem where the ability to hang on for "normal " periods can be lost. With this bladder problem , toilet availability controls every activity - shopping trips, family outings and even going to church may be reconsidered due to difficult access to the toilet - the bladder begins to ruling and ruining life. When you finally get to the toilet, taking time to empty your bladder is good -but some women rush their wee and hover over the toilet seat as a means of infection prevention - if done regularly this can lead to incomplete bladder emptying.

Keeping our bowel motion soft and regular is also important as the bowel does have a big influence upon the bladder and can contribute to bladder problems also.

So if that are some of the myths dispelled what are the warning signs of bladder control problems? Some of the signs include: any involuntary leakage of urine, leakage with laugh,cough sneeze, the urgent need to pass urine, not getting to the toilet in time, going more often that "normal', pain, burning or difficulty with urine flow. Do seek help from a health professional if you are concerned about your bladder control - and don't let your bladder rule your life. Further information regarding normal bladder control and what you can do about regaining control can be accessed from the New Zealand Continence Association 0800 650 659 , email jan@continence.org.nz , there you can obtain confidential information and the contact names of the continence health professionals working in your area.