Do you frequently feel a sudden urge to urinate? Do you sometimes not make it to the bathroom in time to urinate? You’re not alone, as roughly 15 percent of women will experience an overactive bladder in their lifetime.
What is an Overactive Bladder?
An overactive bladder is a condition of urinary incontinence (a pelvic health issue) which causes your bladder to empty more frequently than needed or produce a sudden urge to urinate. This urge may make it difficult to stop the flow of urine, thus leading to overactive bladder.
Conditions like this often leave women feeling insecure and embarrassed, which then leads to distancing from social activities and work life. To combat these feelings, it’s essential to talk with your provider about the steps you can take to treat overactive bladder. With a brief evaluation of what you’re dealing with, a urogynecologist will be able to address why you’re having these issues and the best ways to alleviate your discomfort.
7 Treatment Options
Your provider or a urogynecologist will address which treatment option is best for you and your lifestyle while also evaluating your condition, symptoms, and the best route to get you back to living a healthy, overactive bladder-free life.
Changing aspects of your lifestyle may help reduce your symptoms of overactive bladder. These can be any of the following:
- Maintain healthy weight: The more overweight a person is, the more likely they are to develop an overactive bladder.
- Do not restrict fluids: While having an overactive bladder may seem daunting (and frustrating), it’s important to keep fluids in your systems to stay hydrated.
- Limit foods and drinks which irritate your bladder: Foods or beverages that cause irritation are caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, juices, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, tea, and more.
- Don’t smoke: To put it simply - it’s best not to.
Similar to lifestyle changes, there are also behavioral changes that may benefit someone dealing with an overactive bladder.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: Kegels help to strengthen your pelvic floor which helps prevent an overactive bladder.
- Scheduled toilet trips: Work with your provider to come up with a good scheduling system to get you back to feeling your best.
- Intermittent catheterization: Using a catheter every once in a while may help with emptying your bladder if you’re unable to do so. This method should be discussed with your provider.
- Absorbent pads: Using absorbent pads may get you back to enjoying social activities without the risk of accidents.
- Bladder retraining: Retrain your bladder by holding off urinating. Start in small time increments like 30 minutes and then work your way toward 2-4 hours between trips to the bathroom.
There are two alternative options that a person suffering from overactive bladder symptoms may want to consider.
- Biofeedback: Connects electrical sensors to your body which sends and receives information about changes you need to make (i.e. strengthening your pelvic muscles).
- Acupuncture: Connects small, disposable needles to your body and helps stimulate the nerves.
If any of the lifestyle or behavioral changes don’t alleviate your symptoms, the next step is medication. Many medicines for overactive bladder relax the muscles in your pelvic region, therefore reducing the need to urinate often.
Chat with your provider about which medication is the best for you to take.
Injections aid in a less invasive way for treating symptoms of overactive bladder. They don’t use incisions, and with a low complication rate, many women find this a more comfortable option to choose over surgery.
- Urethral Bulking Agents: Injects a permanent paste into the muscular walls of the urethra which then narrows and reduces urinary leakage.
- Botox: The use of Botox paralyzes the bladder muscles which then decreases the feeling and sensitivity of needing to urinate.
6. Nerve Stimulation
Nerve stimulation is very similar to acupuncture as a small needle is inserted near a nerve which then aids in changing the signals that the bladder receives.
- Tibial Nerve Stimulation: Stimulates a nerve near the ankle to deliver a different message to the bladder.
- Sacral Nerve Stimulation: Stimulates a nerve near the spine that helps control the nerves in the bladder.
Surgery for overactive bladder is mostly used as a final resort to treatment. Many women can curb their issues by trying one or several of the treatment options above. Speak with your provider to see if surgery is right for you.
Establish Support with Family, Friends, & Metro OBGYN
When you find the right support group, you will overcome fears, learn coping mechanisms, and remain motivated during recovery.
Your support group should also include your urogynecologist at Metro OBGYN. With four locations, our providers are ready to help you get back to living a life away from the restroom. Request an appointment today to start your recovery journey!