Overactive Bladder Symptoms an Annoyance for Women

Survey Reveals the Frustrations ofWomen Living With an Overactive Bladder

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 29, 2010 -- An online survey of more than 1,100 women with overactive bladder found that middle-aged women are more likely to feel annoyed and frustrated about their symptoms than embarrassed or stigmatized.

The survey findings are important, the author says, because understanding women’s frustrations with overactive bladder could improve treatment compliance and better inform doctors on helping patients manage their symptoms. The survey results are published in the current issue of Annals of Urology.

The survey took place in March 2009, conducted by Nancy Muller, executive director of the National Association for Continence, based in Charleston, S.C. A total of 611 women aged 40 to 65 who self-reported that they had overactive bladder were asked how they feel about having the condition, what drove them to seek treatment for overactive bladder, and what made them continue or discontinue treatment. The survey respondents were divided into three groups: women who were never formally treated, women currently undergoing treatment, and women who stopped treatment. Ninety-one percent of the group was white.

Frustrations and Misperceptions

Among the respondents, the survey found that:

  • 78% said they sought treatment because they were frustrated with their symptoms.
  • 39% reported annoyance about their overactive bladders, whereas only 24% reported feeling embarrassed.
  • 68% reported experiencing urinary leakage by not making it to the toilet in time; that figure was 78% among women who reported stopping treatment.
  • 88% had taken medications to treat their overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Only 22% said they were satisfied with their current treatments; another 28% said their treatments were too expensive.

Muller also notes that misperceptions about overactive bladder are also important to address. According to the report, 38% of Americans believe incontinence is a natural part of aging.

According to the National Association for Continence, 25 million American adults experience urinary incontinence, an estimated 80% of women.

“The findings demonstrate the need for greater public health education,” Muller wrote, “so that people are made aware of what they can do for themselves, as well as their options for overactive bladder treatment, beyond just taking daily medications.”

Muller says that the study results should be considered preliminary in nature and that further studies should be performed in the future on a larger scale.

The study was funded by Medtronic, Inc.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on October 29, 2010



Muller, N. Annals of Urology.

National Association of Continence.

Muller, N. Urology Nursing,  2005; vol 25: pp 109-115.

© 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.