OAB: Tips for Better Sex and Sleep

Medically Reviewed by Nazia Q Bandukwala, DO on January 06, 2023
3 min read

Few things ruin your sleep (or put a kink in your groove) like having to get up to pee just when things are getting good. But if you have overactive bladder (OAB), you already know that, all too well.

Luckily, OAB doesn’t have to ruin your sleep or your sex life. You can take simple steps to enjoy the rest -- and the romance -- you deserve.

You should be able to sleep 6 to 8 hours a night without having to wake up to pee. But if you have OAB, that may be more dream than reality.

Most people with OAB have nocturia. This means you wake up to pee more than two times during the night. This can also be caused by other medical conditions, and it is important to make sure these have been ruled out.

OAB can ruin a good night’s sleep and leave you tired and cranky the next day. But there are things you can do before you head off to bed that will curb your nighttime trips to the bathroom:

Limit fluids before bedtime. Several hours before, if you can. That will help you completely empty your bladder before you hit the sack.

Avoid “triggers.” Some foods and drinks can irritate your bladder and make you have to pee. Don’t know what yours are? Keep a food diary. It’ll help you keep track of what you eat and whether it makes you have to go.

Some of the most common triggers:

  • Coffee, tea, and drinks with caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Spicy foods
  • Food made with tomatoes
  • Brown, dark, or milk chocolate (white is fine)

Pee before you go to bed. Then pee again. Doctors call this “double voiding.” It means you use the bathroom, wait a few minutes, and then go again. Try it if you can’t quite get your bladder empty the first time.

Do Kegels. These exercises strengthen your pelvic muscles. They can also help to relax your bladder when you have to go. To do them, squeeze the muscles that control your urine flow. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Do it a few times each day. You should see results in a few weeks. Bonus: They can help your sex life, too.

Retrain your bladder. During the day, set a schedule to pee only at certain times. Follow it whether you want to or not. Before long, you’ll notice your bladder can hold more. Space your bathroom trips further apart. Over time, you’ll find you can wait 3 to 4 hours before you have to go. Be patient -- you may not see results for a few weeks.

Ask your doctor about medications. When you pair them with lifestyle and behavior changes, drugs can help ease OAB. And you can sleep through the night. Your doctor might have you try:

Use products to manage leaks. A wide range of disposable or reusable underwear is available for men and women.

Anticipation can be the best part of sex. If you have OAB, it can also be a cause of anxiety. Studies show that women who have this condition often shy away from sex because they fear embarrassment. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

These simple tricks can calm your nerves and get your love life back on track.

Talk about sex. With your partner, that is. It’s the easiest way to avoid an embarrassing situation. Chances are your lover will be more understanding than you think. And real intimacy is about being able to be open and honest with another person, right?

Do your Kegels. They’ll keep your pelvic muscles strong and help reduce leaks during sex.

Limit fluids. Don’t drink anything about an hour before you plan to get intimate. And pee before sex. That’ll keep your bladder empty and make you less likely to leak once things get hot and heavy.

Try new positions. Find one that doesn’t put direct pressure on your bladder or urethra.  

Keep towels handy. Place them on the bed to absorb any leaks and avoid cleanups later.