Do you know how the urinary tract works?
The urinary tract produces and eliminates urine from your body through a system of organs, muscles and nerves that coordinate and work together.
Achieving this coordination is a difficult task for our bodies, and, for that reason, we need a few years in order to learn how to do so when we’re children. Later on in life, it becomes more difficult, as any of the mechanisms may fail….
Urination is normally a combination of a conscious and an involuntary stimulation that coordinate in order to empty the bladder.
Image courtesy of Kerchak. Female urinary system.
1º The bladder fills up over the course of a few hours.
2º When the bladder reaches a volume of 150-250 ml, the nerves surrounding the bladder send messages to the brain, indicating that the bladder is getting full. This triggers the first urge to urinate and occurs automatically.
3º Normally, the first urge to urinate is not very strong and can be voluntary controlled, until in a convenient place to urinate. The sphincter remains closed in order to allow us to urinate later on.
4º Meanwhile, the bladder continues to accumulate urine and can reach an average of 350-500ml or more.
5º When we consciously decide that we cannot wait any longer and relax the sphincter muscle of the urethra and the detrusor contracts, the urine comes out and the bladder is emptied.
This process repeats itself 4 to 6 times a day. During the night, this process normally stops in order to allow us to sleep. Therefore, it’s normal to go to the toilet every 2 – 3 hours during the day, and at night, every 6 – 8 hours.
An overactive bladder and urge incontinence occur when the bladder contracts very often and improperly.
Achieving this coordination is a difficult task for our bodies, and, for that reason, we need a few years in order to learn how to do so when we’re children. Later on in life, it becomes more difficult, as any of the mechanisms may fail…
Natalia Gennaro, expert gynecologist, specialised in laparoscopic surgery and the pelvic floor