You probably don’t have a “small bladder”
Bladders don’t vary much in size; yours might just act small. When it comes to how often you run to the bathroom, there are two things to consider: Actual bladder capacity (how much fluid your bladder physically holds) and functional bladder capacity (how long you wait before peeing). “Sometimes patients will sense bladder fullness at an earlier time than others, and that’s when they say, ‘I have a small bladder,’” says Benjamin Brucker, MD, assistant professor of urology, obstetrics, and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “You might get that message to pee very soon after it’s empty and starting to fill.”
If you find yourself with bladder problems, like needing to pee often, talk to your doctor. He or she may treat you for overactive bladder by suggesting you minimize bladder irritants (such as coffee, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners) or start pelvic floor exercises such as Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles that help you “hold it.” Look out for these clear signs that you have an overactive bladder.
Let’s get something straight about incontinence
It’s not just leaking. There are two different main kinds of incontinence, both of which can be treated by doctors. Stress urinary incontinence occurs when you laugh, sneeze, cough, or do anything else to exert pressure on your pelvic floor. Urge incontinence is when you suddenly and unexpectedly have to urinate, even if you recently emptied your bladder. With both types of incontinence, obesity is a risk factor (in stress incontinence, it increases intra-abdominal pressure; meanwhile, metabolic shifts are believed to affect urgency incontinence). While stress incontinence is related to genetics and child-bearing, urgency incontinence is commonly seen in diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s. Up to 80 percent of the 25 million adult Americans suffering from urinary incontinence are women.
Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor, who may recommended behavioral techniques (such as scheduled toilet trips and diet management), pelvic floor muscle exercises, medications, or even treatments such as injections to help keep the urethra closed.