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A B O U T   B L A D D E R   A N D   P R O L A P S E   
P R O B L E M S

Does This Sound Familiar?

  • Do you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, exercise, or lift something heavy? If so, you may have Stress Incontinence.
  • Do you leak urine when you feel a strong need to go but can't get there in time? Do you have to urinate frequently during the day or get up many times during the night? This condition is called Urge Incontinence or Overactive Bladder.
  • Do you have an uncomfortable feeling of bulging, dropping, or pressure in your vagina? This condition is called Prolapse.

Normal Bladder Function

The need to urinate varies based on what and how much one drinks. In general, the bladder should empty every 3 to 6 hours or 4 to 6 times in 24 hours. The average bladder capacity is 10 to 20 ounces, though this decreases a bit with aging.

Most adults feel no signal to urinate until the bladder is about half full or more. After that first signal, the sensation subsides temporarily. As the bladder gets fuller, the signal returns and gets stronger and more frequent, but still subsides if urination needs to be delayed.

It is not normal to have to rush to the toilet. Even after the first warning, people with normal bladder function can usually postpone emptying the bladder until the appropriate time and place. The first warning of the need to go can occur 1 to 2 hours before the bladder is actually full. Strong urgency can occur if you've been ignoring a mounting need to go for a long time, or if you've drunk a large amount of fluids or take water pills. Under ordinary circumstances you should not have a strong urgency to urinate.

Many people never wake up at night to urinate, but getting up once or twice, especially if you are older, can be normal.

 

Questions or comments about this Web site may be sent to
coe@obgyn.ucsf.edu. Last updated: 09/11/2009

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