Lots of people have overactive bladder (OAB), a condition that causes leaks or a sudden urge to pee both day and night. They don’t always tell their doctor, but that’s the first step to easing anxiety and making day-to-day life easier to manage.
Your family doctor or primary care doctor can probably treat your symptoms if they’re mild. But if they’re severe, they’ll likely send you to a urologist. That’s a doctor who specializes in problems with the urinary system: your bladder, kidneys, and other organs. They also take care of the male reproductive system.
Make the Most of Your Time
Whether you’ve talked to your doctor about OAB before or it’s your first time, it helps to be as prepared as possible. Follow these tips for a successful appointment:
- Make a list of all medications and vitamins and supplements you may take (always tell your doctor if you start something new).
- Tell them about any conditions, injuries, or allergies -- past or present.
- Ask lots of questions and take notes during your visit.
- Don’t hold back when talking about your symptoms -- they’ve heard it all before.
Are you worried about not being able to find a bathroom whenever you go out? Is getting up several times a night to pee disrupting your sleep? Be sure to tell them how OAB is affecting your everyday life.
Don’t Forget the Details
It’s important to be detailed about what’s happening. That makes it easier for your doctor to figure out which treatment might work best.
They might ask you to keep a “bladder diary” for a few weeks to track how often you go to the bathroom or have leaks. You’ll write down:
- How much fluid you drink and when
- How much you pee (or leak) and when
- How often you feel an urgent “gotta go” sensation
This will also help you both spot things that trigger or make your OAB worse, like too much caffeine or spicy foods.
Your doctor’s recommendations will depend on your symptoms. But behavioral therapy is usually the first choice. It works well for lots of people and has no side effects.
This may involve losing weight, doing pelvic muscle exercises (also called Kegel exercises), or bladder training. That’s when you teach your bladder to empty on a schedule. The idea is that it’ll learn to hold more over time.
If behavioral therapy isn’t enough, prescription medication may help. These include vaginal estrogen therapy and drugs that stop bladder muscle contractions. Other treatments include:
- OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections in your bladder
- Nerve stimulation
Some medications have side effects, like dry eyes and mouth. Constipation happens too. That can make your OAB symptoms worse, so tell your doctor if that’s the case.
If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening or helping, always remember that you can get a second opinion. Don’t stop trying. Over time, you’ll figure out who and what works for you.