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Bladder training: frequently asked questions

Patient information A-Z

What is bladder training?

Bladder training is a way of teaching your bladder how to hold more urine and cut back on the number of times you need to pass urine (frequency). It also helps to stop urine leaking when you experience urgency (the sudden, uncontrollable need to pass water).

It is used to treat an overactive or unstable bladder which is responsible for the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have this condition the bladder contracts before you are ready to go to the toilet and this can happen especially if you get into the habit of going "just in case", as the bladder learns to hold a small amount.

How do I do bladder training?

Instead of your bladder controlling you, you must learn how to control your bladder. When you feel the urge to pass water, tell yourself that you are not going to. Try to distract yourself for five to fifteen minutes from the time you get the first urge (use whatever method best distracts you). If you do this for a week, every time you want to pass water, you should find that by the end of the week the urge to urinate is delayed.

During the next week do the same thing and delay passing urine by a further five to fifteen minutes; by doing this your bladder will learn to hold more, and your symptoms will reduce.

Please be persistent and remember that you bladder is like any other muscle in the body and may require a few months training in order to reach its full potential.

Is there anything else I can do?

There are a number of things you can do to help the situation:

Some people find that cutting down on drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine reduce their symptoms:

  • Try to drink between one and a half and two litres of fluid a day.
  • Try not to become constipated.
  • If leaking becomes a continuous problem then speak to your local continence specialist (Addenbrooke's continence advisor 01223 217465, community continence advisor01353 652145)
  • Ask your doctor if any medications may help you if bladder training fails.

Who can I contact for more help or information?

Oncology nurses

Uro-oncology nurse specialist
01223 586748

Bladder cancer nurse practitioner (haematuria, chemotherapy and BCG)
01223 274608

Prostate cancer nurse practitioner
01223 274608 or 01223 216897

Surgical care practitioner
01223 348590 or 01223 256157

Non-oncology nurses

Urology nurse practitioner (incontinence, urodynamics, catheter patients)
01223 274608

Urology nurse practitioner (stoma care)
01223 349800

Urology nurse practitioner (stone disease)
07860 781828

Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

Telephone: 01223 216756
PatientLine: *801 (from patient bedside telephones only)
Email PALS

Mail: PALS, Box No 53
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ

Chaplaincy and multi faith community

Telephone: 01223 217769
Email the chaplaincy

Mail: The Chaplaincy, Box No 105
Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ

MINICOM System ("type" system for the hard of hearing)

Telephone: 01223 217589

Access office (travel, parking and security information)

Telephone: 01223 596060

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151