Bladder control is something that many people take for granted, unaware of the complex coordination of nerves and muscles in the urinary system that are required for the bladder to fill and empty on demand.
Simplified diagram of the urinary system
The urinary system is made up of the two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder and urethra. The kidneys are bean shaped organs that filter the blood of waste products and produce urine, which is transported via the ureters to the bladder. The bladder has two basic functions: to store urine, and to empty via the urethra.
The bladder is supported by the muscles, ligaments and fascia forming the pelvic floor, which provides a sling – like support for the bladder and other pelvic organs, and also helps to keep the bladder neck closed to prevent leakage.
What is normal bladder control?
All human babies are born incontinent; the bladder simply fills and empties by a reflex action. At around the age of two to three years, the brain becomes able to inhibit this reflex and the child is able to learn to control the bladder. This stage of development is usually referred to as “potty training”.
As a general rule, it is considered to be normal for an adult to go to the toilet to pass urine around 6 times a day, and get up once at night.
The bladder can usually store up to about 500 mls, but this can differ from one individual to another.