Hesperian Health Guides

Methods for the Limp Bladder

If the person’s bladder is limp (flaccid), it never empties by reflex. The bladder will constantly have urine sitting in it unless an effective emptying method is used.


  1. Put in a regular catheter every 4 to 6 hours to empty the bladder. Between catheter use, the boy can put on a condom to catch any leaking urine.
  2. A Foley catheter can be used, but may lead to problems.
  3. Other alternatives include a surgical operation, which allows the urine to come out through a small opening on the belly into a bag. Or a special catheter is put into the bladder through a small hole in the lower belly.


  1. They can use a Foley catheter. This is often the simplest method, but can lead to urinary infections.
  2. Or try an ‘intermittent’ (in and out) program, using a regular catheter every 4-6 hours. If there is leaking in between catheter times, use diapers, rags, or a thick sanitary pad to catch the urine. Change them often and wash often to protect the skin and prevent sores.
  3. The surgical procedures mentioned for boys can also be done in girls.


  • The push method:
Or strain to push urine out by tightening the stomach muscles.
a girl pushing down bladder while trying to urinate sitting
Push down over the bladder with the hands.
a boy trying to urinate sitting and tightening stoamch muscles Or put a fist over the lower belly and gently press it by bending forward.

This method is recommended by many professionals, but it can cause problems. If the muscles do not relax to let the urine out, pushing on the bladder can force urine back into the kidneys—causing kidney infection and damage. Therefore, the push method should only be used if the urine comes out easily with gentle pressure—or if there is no other way possible.

  • With boys with a limp bladder, the condom method can be used. But it is best to also use a regular catheter at least 3 times a day. This is because the bladder does not empty completely, which makes infection more likely.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019