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Botox May Put the Brakes on Overactive Bladder

Botox, Medication Reduce Daily Leaks continued...

Both the oral medications and the injections can have side effects. In the study, some women complained that the pills caused dry mouth, while the shot led to urine retention, and increased the chance of needing a catheter to drain the bladder. Twice the number of women in the Botox group got urinary tract infections compared to the pill group.

Botox injections to the bladder are performed in a doctor’s office and are not as painful as they sound, Visco says. Doctors often use a numbing agent as well. “Most women tolerate it very well and some don’t feel it at all.”

Overactive Bladder Robs Quality of Life

Overactive bladder is more than just a nuisance. “People minimize it and think it just means that you have to constantly run to the bathroom,” he says.

It can be much worse.

“Our bladders are lined by muscle and when we void, the muscle contracts and empties out our bladder and this is good when it works properly,” Visco says. With overactive bladder, the contractions occur randomly and leakage can be drips or the full contents of bladder.

“It is unpredictable, and can occur at work, in a store, or on an airplane,” he says.

“Overactive bladder is a very humbling and embarrassing condition that can affect a woman’s professional, personal, and intimate life,” says Linda Brubaker, MD. She is a co-author on the study and the dean of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “They have to wear bulky pads and undergarments and carry or keep spare clothing in their bags, car, or place of work.”

Botox injections can be tried before medications, she says. “This study shows us that we could try Botox first. It is an appropriate first-line treatment that has pros and cons just like all other treatments.”

More Options for Women With Overactive Bladder

This option may be especially important for women who don’t like to take pills, Brubaker says.

Robert Moldwin, MD, says the new study does mean that Botox may be another option for women with overactive bladder. He is a urologist at the Arthur Smith Institute for Urology, part of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

But, as with oral medications, Botox does have side effects. “Another downside to Botox is that it is a done deal and you have to live with the results,” he says. This is great if you like the effects, and not so great if you don’t or develop side effects like recurring infections.

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