OAB: Sleep Deprivation and Emotional Effects
OAB, Sleep, and Depression continued...
According to research on women with OAB by the National Association for Continence (NAFC), sleep disruption can affect a woman's sense of "normalcy" during daytime hours. Half of the women in a series of online interviews reported that their OAB includes a condition called nocturia, which is marked by multiple overnight bathroom visits.
"Even if you don’t have a bladder problem it's normal to get up at least once a night to empty a full bladder," Brubaker says. "If all's going well, you wake up, go to the bathroom, go back to bed, and fall back to sleep. But the more you have to wake up, the more your sleep patterns get disturbed. And a number of people report that they begin to leak on the way to the bathroom at night, which is even more stressful and can put you at risk for falls."
Constant sleep interruptions can take their toll, leaving you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Women who made two or more nighttime bathroom trips were more likely to report experiencing depression than women who said they have OAB without nocturia.
Incontinence and Sex
If you have stress incontinence, you may find that you're leaking urine during penetration. This can happen because the act of having sex moves your bladder and puts added pressure on it. "There may be discomfort, or overactive bladder and urine loss during intercourse," Rames says. "That gets in the way of intimate relationships." It can also leave you feeling unattractive and undesirable.
An overactive bladder muscle can also make you leak during orgasm, which can also make both sex and masturbation more stressful and less pleasurable. If your fears about bladder problems are getting in the way of your sex life, don't just ignore them. Talk to your partner and your doctor before incontinence issues disrupt your sex life -- and your relationship.
Managing OAB Day to Day
What can be particularly frustrating is that even when you're being treated for OAB symptoms, you may have to wait to see improvement. You might also have to try different therapies, because there isn't a one-size-fits-all treatment.
“Most people have ‘mixed’ incontinence, meaning that they may have symptoms of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence, or overactive bladder as well,” says Brubaker. “We don’t have a single treatment that works on everything, so if you’ve got multiple symptoms from each condition, it’s likely that you’ll have to have more than one type of treatment.”
She advises women (and men) in treatment for OAB to think of their condition as a lifelong, chronic, but manageable problem rather than something that can be treated and permanently cured. “If you developed diabetes at 40, you wouldn’t take a medication and expect that you wouldn’t have it anymore at 50. It’s a lifetime condition. You’re going to start treatment, but as you age, it will remain a challenge and may get worse,” Brubaker says. “It’s the same with incontinence.”