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Putting an Overactive Bladder to Bed

Insights for Good Sleep and Good Sex

OAB and Your Sex Life

OAB can interfere with that other bed activity, too. There’s nothing that can shut down an intimate moment faster than realizing you’ve lost control of your bladder -- something that happens for many people with OAB. “Sexual activity itself is irritating to the bladder, and you can lose urine during intercourse,” Sanz says. “About 15% of my patients report having incontinence during sex.”

“When you’re being intimate, you’re used to secretions and moistness, but the thought that it’s actually urine leakage is really upsetting and uncomfortable,” says Denson. “Usually it’s the female patient who has the leakage, and it’s actually more bothersome for her than for her partner.”

Tips for Getting Your Groove Back

There are some things you can do to ward off discomfort or embarrassment during sex.

Talk about it. First, know that your partner will probably be a lot more understanding than you expect. Then bring it up before you have intercourse. “Don’t wait until it happens and say, ’Oh, guess what?’” Denson says. “It’s better to be upfront and honest ahead of time.” 

Plan. Prepare for sex, just as you do for bedtime. Double-void, cut back on fluids, and avoid foods and beverages that are likely to irritate your bladder. (This means it’s probably a good idea to skip that romantic glass of wine.)

Keep up the Kegels. Doing these several times a day -- and even during intercourse -- will help prevent urine leakage during sex.

All of these approaches can help you manage your overactive bladder at night, letting you get a better night’s sleep and have a more active and satisfying sex life. But Sanz adds that if your overactive bladder is really causing you problems, there’s no reason you need to live with it.

“There is hope. There is treatment,” he says. You need to be evaluated by a urogynecologist, who will talk to you about three types of treatment: behavioral modification, medication, and surgical procedures are available, he says. “You don’t have to let an overactive bladder interfere with your life.”

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Reviewed on July 11, 2013

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