Have you ever had a “Doorknob Moment”?

Those that have, you know what I mean. For those that haven’t, please let me explain. You are comfortable and you have no sensation to uringreen-restroom-signsate, but as soon as you arrive home and place the key in the front door or turn the doorknob you develop an overwhelming sudden urge to urinate.  Often you will even start to leak as you do the “pee pee hustle” to the bathroom down the hall.

Urinary urgency or sudden severe urge to urinate is a common symptom in women, and can often result in accidental urination before reaching the bathroom. Although common, it is a frustrating as well as very embarrassing problem to have. What many don’t know is that it can be managed through easy behavioral and lifestyle changes. Here are three ways that may improve your problem without medical management:


  • Don’t hold it so long!

Often being busy in our jobs or running around after our children – keeps us preoccupied and we wait too long before relieving ourselves. Our bladders become full past its capacity.  Bladder retraining is a simple technique that prevents over-filling by placing you on a timed schedule based on your baseline frequency.  You can start by placing yourself on a timed pattern of voiding every 30 minutes, or every 1 or 2 hours and then over time increase the interval.  This could increase your bladder’s capacity to hold urine, which in turn, reduces the amount of bathroom breaks and wetting accidents.

  • Do the “quick flick” dance!

Everyone has heard of Kegel exercises! Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor muscle exercises, can help reduce this problem as well as other leakage issues. The key is to do them regularly and correctly.  If you are unsure how to perform them, ask your gynecologist at your next visit to test to see if you are performing them correctly. When you have a sudden urge, do your Kegels; the quick muscle contractions of the vaginal walls will send signals to the nerve innervating the bladder and help relax your bladder muscle when it contracts.

  • Find out what doesn’t agree with you!

Certain beverages and foods can be very irritating to the bladder walls. Common bladder offenders are caffeine products, citrus fruit and spicy foods.   You can try taking all “bladder irritating” foods out of your diet for 2 weeks and adding them back in one-by-one. Once you figure out which food and drink make your symptoms worse, you can avoid them.

Even though urinary frequency, urinary urgency and bladder leakage with urge can get in the way of one’s life, they don’t have to limit your life. Take the time to try these suggestions.   If your still have problems, your gynecologist and primary care provider can offer second line management.  If these still don’t work a urogynecologist or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon can offer long term successful third line management.

Dr. Mary A. Burns is a board certified urogynecologist and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon at Virginia Beach Obstetrics and Gynecology.  Her offices are located in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.