Overactive Bladder


Overactive bladder is when the bladder muscle contracts unpredictably, causing frequent urination or the sudden, strong urge to urinate with or without leakage of urine. This medical condition affects more than 13 million men and women in the U.S., and can be considered “wet” or “dry”. Wet overactive bladder, also known as urge urinary incontinence, affects more than 9 percent of women and is defined as urinary urgency that leads to leakage of urine. Dry overactive bladder affects more than 7 percent of women and is defined as urinary urgency and frequency without leakage of urine.

The most common symptom of overactive bladder is urinary urgency, which is a sudden, intense desire to urinate. Urgency may occur with (wet overactive bladder) or without (dry overactive bladder) leakage of urine. The urgency can occur in specific situations like hearing or touching running water or getting close to a bathroom. With wet overactive bladder, a person may be unable to stop leakage before reaching the toilet. Urine loss is usually in large amounts.

Some other symptoms include urinary frequency, urinating more than eight times per day and nocturia, which is being awaken by the urge to urinate more than one time per night.

Overactive bladder is caused by involuntary bladder muscle contractions as the bladder fills, which is believed to be due to the bladder nerves malfunctioning. Risk factors include age, obesity, pelvic surgery and the presence of neurological conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. It is important to have a medical evaluation of the symptoms of overactive bladder because they can also be related to urinary tract infections, bladder stones or bladder tumors.

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Both non-surgical and surgical treatment options are available for overactive bladder.

Non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Kegel exercises
  • Pelvic floor therapy
  • Low-dose vaginal estrogen
  • Overactive bladder medications

Surgical treatment options include:

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