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Dysfunctional Voiding

How do Bladders Work?

Your bladder is a bag-like organ that stores and empties urine. Pelvic floor and sphincter muscles control the opening and closing of the bladder and nerves send messages between your muscles, bladder and brain.

When your bladder is filling up, your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles gently contract to hold in the urine. When your bladder starts to stretch, a message is sent from your bladder to your brain to let it know, “I’m full!” When you go to the toilet, your brain tells your bladder to squeeze out the urine and your pelvic floor will relax to let the urine out. When your bladder is empty, your pelvic floor contracts again.

What is Dysfunctional Voiding?

Dysfunctional voiding describes the situation whereby you go to the toilet and your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles do not completely relax. This results in an inability to completely empty your bladder. Common symptoms of dysfunctional voiding include:

The change in muscle coordination associated with dysfunctional voiding may also manifest as changes in your bowel function. In these cases, symptoms such as long skinny bowel motions or small frequent bowel motions may also be evident. Dysfunctional voiding can cause distress for your child and your family. The underlying bladder, bowel, muscle or nerve problem can lead to problems later in life. If your school-aged child shows symptoms of incomplete or altered bladder and bowel emptying, it may be related to changes in muscle coordination and professional advice is recommended.


Assessments and treatments at the Mars Clinic are provided by -trained Physiotherapists. The type and duration of treatment for dysfunctional voiding will vary depending on the cause of the dysfunction and the needs of the individual. Treatment may include: