How To Use A Bladder Diary

Urinary problems aren’t uncommon. 

While women are more likely to develop urinary incontinence and other issues, men deal with them too. 

Overactive bladder and other problems are frustrating but manageable. 

One of the most useful strategies to manage urinary problems is to keep a bladder diary. This post shows everything you need to know about bladder diary and how to use it.

What is a bladder diary?

A bladder diary is an assessment tool that doctors recommend to patients in order to record urinary frequency, fluid intake, and other info. 

Basically, a bladder diary is a simple urinary chart that provides a detailed insight into the bladder’s behavior and makes it easier for a healthcare provider to manage your condition. 

Also known as a voiding diary, a bladder diary is easy to complete and leads to more favorable patient outcomes. 

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How does a bladder diary work?

As mentioned above, a urination chart works by helping urologists assess how a patient’s bladder is functioning. It also serves as an indicator of fluid intake and the amount of urine the bladder can hold. Additionally, a bladder diary shows how often a patient passes urine. 

More precisely, a bladder diary is a source of information about urinary system health, hydration levels, and bathroom habits. 

Not everyone needs to keep this type of health diary. Doctors recommend it to their patients with certain problems. During a checkup, doctors evaluate the bladder diary and adjust the treatment if necessary.

A bladder diary is often necessary for patients with bladder leakage or urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, which is indicated by the unintentional passing of urine. 

Patients with an overactive bladder may also need to keep a voiding diary. Overactive bladder causes sudden and frequent urge to urinate. Most patients find it tricky to control this urge.

Generally speaking, a voiding diary is useful for managing any condition that affects bladder activity. These conditions range from prostate problems, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate) and prostate cancer, to stroke and diabetes

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How do you use a bladder diary?

A bladder diary is incredibly simple to use. The doctor hands out a sheet you need to complete over a specific timeframe. The sheet of paper contains the chart and instructions. All you need to do is follow the instructions, and that’s it. 

Also, it’s easy to find printable urine output charts online. You can find a sample diary online too. A diary sample is beneficial because it makes it easier to understand what to include and how you need to complete the urine tracker.

Note the time and day

In order to use a bladder diary, you start by writing the time of writing a note in a specified section. Some bladder diaries already come with written periods of the day for which you need to write specific notes. Other journals require you to write them on your own. 

Record your fluid intake

The next section is about your fluid intake. More precisely, you need to write down the type of fluid you drank (water, juice, coffee, etc.) and how much you drank in ounces, milliliters, or cups. 

Log your bathroom trips

Once the fluid intake section is complete, you move on to bathroom trips, where you need to log how many times you needed to urinate at a specific time of day. It’s also necessary to specify how much urine there was.

Specify your urine output

Additionally, you also need to specify how much urine there was in the accident leaks and explain whether you felt a strong urge or not. In the last column, you need to write what you were doing when you experienced an accidental leak, e.g., activities such as coughing, running, sneezing, or something else.

Keep in mind that some bladder diaries are slightly different in how you enter the required information. For example, some voiding diaries have two specific columns; one for leakage with urgency and the other for leakage to urination. A patient needs to put a checkmark in the adequate column.

While some voiding diaries are extensive and still simple, others require a lot less info. For example, patients need to enter fluid intake in one column, urination in the second column, whether they had leakage in the third column, and urgency info in the last section. To explain the type of urgency, they may need to use letters that describe different scenarios or triggers. 


How can keeping a bladder diary help? 

The main advantage of keeping a urine incontinence chart is that it provides a better understanding of your urinary symptoms. Not only for doctors but for you as a patient as well! 

We tend to take our urinary health for granted until problems occur. Even when they do, it’s not easy to understand the extent or severity of the situation. 

Better symptom management

That’s where a bladder diary steps in. Completing this journal allows you to closely evaluate your habits so you can adjust them for better management of your symptoms. This can help you with urinary urgency, leakage, and other problems. 

Helps with bladder training

Keeping a timed voiding chart can help you with bladder training too. Bladder training is a type of behavior therapy for managing urinary incontinence. 

During bladder training, a patient adheres to a specific voiding schedule regardless of whether they need to urinate or not. Studies show bladder training effectively reduces the urinary frequency and increases the volume of voiding. Bladder training works for males and females with overactive bladder symptoms.

Can help doctors to treat you

At the same time, the doctor uses information from your bladder monitor diary to treat you. Treatment of urinary problems is individualized; there is no “one size fits all” rule. 

Once the problem is diagnosed, the doctor recommends the most suitable treatment approach based on the severity of the condition and symptoms you described. However, information from the bladder diary helps doctors tweak and change the treatment approach for better outcomes. 

Enables patients to make lifestyle changes

Yet another major advantage of bladder diary is that it allows patients to adjust their lifestyle more effectively. For example, controlling fluid intake is an important aspect of managing prostate problems, bladder problems, and other issues. Sometimes you’re not aware of how much fluid you actually consume. 

As you evaluate fluid intake in the voiding diary, you get a reminder to do better and control it. This is particularly the case for men who tend to drink fluid in the evening. Remember, you shouldn’t drink fluid two to four hours before bedtime if you have bladder or prostate problems. 

Bear in mind that you can keep a bladder diary even if your doctor doesn’t ask you to. 

How many days would you keep a bladder diary?

The doctor specifies how many days you should keep a bladder diary. In most cases, people need to use this diary for three to seven days. 

For example, one study found that a 3-day bladder diary is reliable and efficient for patients with suprapontine neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction. Keeping a diary for three days provided comparable results to a seven-day length.

A comparative study published in the journal Urology confirmed that a voiding diary completed for seven days is reliable and valid for documenting changes in symptoms of overactive bladder in men and women. However, scientists explain bladder diaries of shorter duration could also work. 

Other evidence also shows that seven consecutive days of bladder diary provides a stable and effective measurement of urinary incontinence frequency.

To sum up, the standard duration of keeping a bladder diary is seven days. Doctors may recommend a shorter timeframe if they believe it works for a specific patient. 

What should be in a bladder diary?

When completing a printable bladder diary form, you usually need to enter the following information:

  • Fluid intake
  • Regularity, i.e., trips to urinate in the bathroom 
  • Urinary leakage and its type
  • The circumstances of urinary leakage
  • Pain (in some bladder diaries) 

Why should I record what time I go?

Every daily voiding log features a column with time. As mentioned above, in some diaries, times of day are already provided, whereas others require you to do it yourself. 

This information is necessary because it provides a better understanding of bladder behavior during the day. You get to identify times of day when you usually go to the bathroom or experience leakage. 

Why should I record what I eat and drink?

In your bladder diary, you need to keep a log of all fluids you drink, not just water. Sometimes you also need to write down what food you eat, especially in liquid form. 

Your fluid intake speaks volumes about urinary patterns and behavior too. It also shows a patient how long the bladder takes to fill. This information can help you modify your habits in order to reduce the number of trips to the bathroom or prevent leakage. 


Why should I record the amount of urine I pass?

Not only do you have to enter the number of trips to the bathroom, but also how much urine you pass. In other words, the bladder diary also needs information about urine output. 

Tracking the volume of urine flow provides a better insight into the management of the urinary problem and also reveals more info about treatment progress. 

For example, people who severely restrict fluid intake will have low urine volume. This can be counterproductive because it can worsen their symptoms. 

While managing fluid intake is important, you still need to drink enough water or other healthy fluids to decrease the severity of symptoms. Also, a low volume of urine output could be a sign of other problems such as infection, some medications, enlarged prostate, and others.

Why should I record any pain?

Some bladder diaries have a column where you need to leave a checkmark if you have pain. It’s necessary to record any pain because its presence could point to underlying problems that need to be managed. For example, some causes of bladder pain include urinary tract infection, interstitial cystitis, and bladder cancer


A bladder diary is a simple and easy way to manage your urinary problem. It also helps doctors to improve patients’ health outcomes. 

These diaries record urinary flow, leakage, fluid intake, and other information. They can help you understand your health and bladder behavior. 

Even if your doctor doesn’t ask you to keep a bladder diary, you may still want to download one and keep it to get a better insight into your urinary health.

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  1. Yoon HS, Song HH, Ro YJ. A comparison of effectiveness of bladder training and pelvic muscle exercise on female urinary incontinence. Int J Nurs Stud. 2003.
  2. Lee HE, Cho SY, Lee S, Kim M, Oh SJ. Short-term Effects of a Systematized Bladder Training Program for Idiopathic Overactive Bladder: A Prospective Study. Int Neurourol J. 2013.
  3. Konstantinidis C, Kratiras Z, Samarinas M, Skriapas K. Optimal bladder diary duration for patients with suprapontine neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction. Int Braz J Urol. 2016.
  4. Brown JS, McNaughton KS, Wyman JF, Burgio KL, Harkaway R, Bergner D, Altman DS, Kaufman J, Kaufman K, Girman CJ. Measurement characteristics of a voiding diary for use by men and women with overactive bladder. Urology. 2003.
  5. Julie L. Locher, Patricia S. Goode, David L. Roth, Rebecca L. Worrell, Kathryn L. Burgio, Reliability Assessment of the Bladder Diary for Urinary Incontinence in Older Women, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 56, Issue 1, 1 January 2001.

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