An overactive bladder is a common condition many people, especially women, struggle with. The condition can worsen with age, because of medication, or after pregnancy. People who have experienced an overactive bladder are likely familiar with having the sudden urge to urinate or constantly feeling like they need to urinate. At times, the urge to urinate may feel uncontrollable and result in leaks or difficulty walking because it is so strong. These are all symptoms of an overactive bladder.
A Brief Overview Of An Overactive Bladder
The main symptoms of an overactive bladder include feeling a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control, experiencing involuntary loss of urine immediately after feeling the need to urinate, frequent urination (often eight or more times within twenty-four hours), or waking up two or more times at night to urinate. People who experience these symptoms and are unable to live a normal life because of them should consult their doctor to learn more about the condition and the treatments that may be available to them. It is not always easy to discuss private issues with a health care professional. However, for people who are suffering from an overactive bladder, getting help is worth it because an overactive bladder can substantially disrupt their work and social life.
Causes Of An Overactive Bladder
An overactive bladder occurs when the bladder muscles begin contracting involuntarily even when there is little urine. The involuntary contractions are what produce the feeling of an urgent need to urinate. There are numerous conditions that may cause an overactive bladder, including diabetes, neurological disorders (for example, multiple sclerosis), Alzheimer’s, strokes, medications with urine production as a side effect, urinary tract infections, tumors in the bladder or bladder stones, excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption, a decline in cognitive functioning due to aging, incomplete bladder emptying, and difficulty walking.
Many women tend to experience an overactive bladder during and after pregnancy due to the stress placed on the bladder during pregnancy and childbirth. An overactive bladder is not a disease, so there is no cure for it. However, there are treatments that can help people cope with the condition.
Effects Of An Overactive Bladder
Having an overactive bladder can cause emotional and physical complications. Emotionally, women experiencing an overactive bladder may feel embarrassed by the frequent disruptions to their lives, and the symptoms they exhibit may cause them to isolate themselves socially and at work. Wherever they go, their first thought may be to wonder where the restroom is in preparation for an emergency trip; it can be distressing to go out in public not knowing if a restroom will be available. There may also be physical complications, including disturbed sleep and deteriorating health as people limit their time spent outside of the home and exercising.
Diagnosis And Treatments For An Overactive Bladder
People who have symptoms of an overactive bladder may be referred by their doctor to see a specialist, such as a urogynecologist, gynecologist, or urologist. These health care professionals can diagnose an overactive bladder and offer appropriate advice and treatment. There are many categories of treatment for overactive bladder, including behavioural methods, medication, and devices and products. Behavioural treatments include dietary and lifestyle changes (for example, avoiding caffeine and spicy foods), exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and bladder training.
Medications include those that help prevent bladder spasms and Botox injections in the bladder muscles. Devices and products include a pessary that is placed into the vagina, which helps prevent leakage, and protective pads to avoid embarrassing situations. Surgical procedures are also available if other treatments do not provide sufficient relief from an overactive bladder.
Treatments For An Overactive Bladder During And After Pregnancy
Many women experience overactive bladder symptoms during and after pregnancy, such as leaking, constantly feeling the need to urinate, embarrassment, and isolation. To help treat an overactive bladder, many women find Kegel exercises to be useful for strengthening bladder muscles. Women can perform these exercises by simply squeezing their pelvic floor muscles and holding each squeeze for three seconds.
Experts recommend doing three sets of ten repetitions daily. To identify where their pelvic floor muscles are, women can stop mid-stream the next time they urinate. The muscles used to stop urination are the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback technology can also help women ensure they are contracting the right muscles, and vaginal cones can be used as a weight-training tool to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. There are numerous other natural treatments available, so women should discuss options with their doctor.
Women do not need to live with an overactive bladder forever and cope with the negative physical and emotional consequences of living with the condition. They also do not need to suffer in silence or feel embarrassed about their condition because many women develop an overactive bladder at some point in their lives. An overactive bladder can be treated, and it is best to discuss treatment options with a doctor.
Some women find Kegel exercises to be effective in treating their condition whereas others require a combination of treatments. In any case, the proper treatment may depend on the cause of a woman's overactive bladder. Together with their doctor, women can decide whether a behavioural, medicinal, or product treatments would work best for them.