Pregnancy's Bladder Woes Often Fade

Overactive Bladder, Often a Pregnancy Problem, Tends to Ease After Birth

Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD on February 02, 2006

Feb. 2, 2006 -- During a woman's first pregnancy, her bladder is likely to become overactive. The problem can be stressful but usually eases after childbirth.

The finding comes from a study of 344 first-time moms. Each woman had a single baby after a healthy pregnancy.

The women took surveys about their bladder issues during and after pregnancy. A woman was considered to have an overactive bladder if she experienced both a strong urge to empty her bladder and increased frequency. A woman was classified with urine leakage when she not only had an overactive bladder but also leaked urine.

Overactive bladders and urine leakage were common during pregnancy but quickly became much rarer after childbirth, write the researchers in BJU International, the official journal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

They included Henriette Jorien van Brummen, MD, of the perinatology and gynecology department of University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Overactive Bladder Common

The women took the surveys four times: at 12 and 36 weeks of gestation, and again three and 12 months after giving birth.

Roughly half of the women reported having an overactive bladder at 12 weeks of gestation. Overactive bladders became more common as pregnancy progressed. At 36 weeks of gestation, nearly six in 10 women reported having an overactive bladder.

For most women, bladder problems stopped after childbirth. Only 12% of participants still reported having an overactive bladder three months and a year after giving birth.

In each survey, a minority of women with overactive bladder reported having urine leakage. That problem was particularly stressful and embarrassing, causing the women to restrict their lifestyles and cutting their quality of life, the study shows.

Attention should be paid to those problems, especially if they linger after childbirth, write the researchers. Their advice:

  • Doctors should screen new moms for overactive bladder with urine leakage.
  • New mothers with persistent symptoms should talk to their doctors about treatment options.

Show Sources

SOURCES: van Brummen, H. BJU International, January 2006, vol 97: pp 296-300. News release, Wizard Communications.
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