ABOUT YOUR BLADDER

How the bladder works

The bladder is a storage organ that sits in your pelvis. Urine (wee) is made by your kidneys and is stored in the bladder until you are ready to empty it.

When you go to the toilet your bladder outlet muscles (urethral sphincter and pelvic floor) relax and your bladder contracts (squeezes) emptying the urine. Your brain controls your bladder by sending messages through the nerves in your spinal cord to tell it when to hold on and when to empty.

male and female anatomy diagram

Signs of a healthy bladder

A healthy bladder:

  • empties 4-6 times each day
  • can hold up to 400-600ml of urine (the sensation of needing to empty occurs at 200-300 ml)
  • may wake you up once at night to pass urine and twice if you are older (i.e. over 65 years of age)
  • tells you when it is full but gives you enough time to find a toilet
  • empties completely each time you pass urine
  • does not leak urine.

Bladder control problems

In Australia one in three women, one in ten men and one in five children have a bladder control problem. People who experience accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder may be suffering from urinary incontinence.

Learn more about urinary incontinence

Seek help

In many cases incontinence can be prevented, better managed and even cured. Talk to your family doctor or contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

The National Continence Helpline is staffed by Nurse Continence Specialists who offer free and confidential information, advice and support. They also provide a wide range of continence-related resources and referrals to local services.

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Last Updated: Thu 17, Sep 2020
Last Reviewed: Tue 17, Mar 2020