What is overactive bladder?
If you urinate very frequently (more than once every 2-3 hours), and the urge to urinate is so strong that you don’t feel you will make it to the bathroom, you have an overactive bladder (OAB). If you leak before reaching the toilet, this is called urge incontinence. OAB is an extremely common condition and affects about 40% of women in the United States (1). Two large studies showed that about 1 out of every 6 adults reported some symptoms of overactive bladder (2). It happens when the bladder does not store urine properly.
Why does it happen?
The bladder can become overactive for many reasons, including abnormal signals between your brain and your bladder, hormone changes, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, side effects from medication, and from neurologic problems such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, or multiple sclerosis. If you suffer from a neurologic condition as well as an overactive bladder, this is called a neurogenic bladder.
What can I do about it?
It is very important to have a thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider specializing in urology or urogynecology. This is to make sure that your symptoms are not being caused by a urinary tract infection, medication, problems with emptying your bladder, or another form of bladder leakage. These problems would be treated differently from overactive bladder. If you do indeed have an overactive bladder, treatments would start with behavioral modification, bladder retraining, and pelvic floor physical therapy. If conservative measures are not helping, we have many tools in our armamentarium that can help. These include medication, posterior tibial nerve stimulation, bladder botox, and sacral neuromodulation. Dr. Kumar will discuss your options to offer you the best relief. She will address any other potential causes for your symptoms.