Tips & Advice: Timed Voiding

  • What is timed voiding?

    Timed voiding means that the bladder is emptied on a regular basis — not only when the urge to void is felt. In theory, timed voiding seems relatively simple. In reality, however, remembering to do an activity at a set interval without a reminder is difficult. Timed voiding watches that can be programmed to vibrate at regular intervals of time are sensational in implementing any timed reminder program. Some people use reminder watches not only for timed voiding, but for taking medication, checking blood sugar, making carpool schedules, etc.

    Timed voiding prevents the bladder from overfilling and sending urgent messages to empty. This allows individuals with urge incontinence to have some control over their bladder, instead of their bladder being in control. It's also helpful in situations where the impulse to empty isn't received, as with individuals with a neurological impairment or in some cases of dementia. Timed voiding can even be used as a reminder for self-catheterizations.

  • How do I use a vibrating watch to create a timed voiding program?

    • Use a vibratory reminder watch, such as the Vibro-Watch. A noise-making watch can be disruptive to others and will draw unnecessary attention to you. Unfortunately, beeping watches are also easy to ignore, especially in a noisy environment.
    • Look at your daytime schedule. Avoid setting times that are impossible to follow. For example, it is impossible to follow the reminder if you're in the car, on the way home from work. By the time you walk in the door, the message has been forgotten. A much better time to be reminded would be as before you left the office for the day.
    • VibraLITE 3 Vibrating Watch
    • If you're using an interval watch, carefully think through the exact intervals you will program in. If you're beginning a bladder retraining program, you might begin with an interval of 15 minutes longer than you would normally go. Stretching this interval to around 2 hours would be a goal.
    • A watch that can be programmed with specific times may be preferable. For example, if lunch is at 11:55, voiding before lunch at 11:50 would make sense. However, if your interval watch reminds you at 12:00, getting out of line in the lunchroom might be difficult.
    • The watch should be used seven days a week. Learning a new behavior is more effective if it is consistently reinforced.
    • If it isn't possible for a watch to be worn, an effective alternative is the Invisible Clock. This small vibrating unit clips to the waistband or pocket to provide a discreet reminder.
    • You should go to the bathroom when your watch reminds you, even if you don't feel that you have to go. If the urge to urinate comes before the reminder, relax, contract the pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds, three or four times and sit very still. The urge will pass and you can walk to the bathroom at the prescribed time.
    • Use the watch several months past the time that you think the problem has been resolved. The nice thing about a watch is that it can be used just to tell time if toileting at regular intervals is no longer necessary.
  • What other hints will help me with timed voiding?

    • Since constipation and daytime wetting can be related, having plenty of fiber and regular bowel movements may be helpful.
    • Preserve self-esteem. Washable absorbent briefs contain the urine and prevent leakage to outer garments. OdorZyme can be used as a pre-soak to treat clothing or bedding that smells of urine. Disposable incontinence pads designed especially for urine, not menses, can be discreetly placed in underwear for additional protection. These types of pads are designed to quickly absorb and trap a large gush of fluid, such as happens with urine leakage. The covering is also designed differently than those on sanitary products.
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