Focus on Women Healthy Living

Overactive bladder: What you need to know – plus lifestyle changes that really help

If you and your toilet are on a first-name basis, you’re not alone.

“Overactive bladder or OAB is a common condition characterized by a sudden, urgent need to urinate or frequent urination, affecting as many as 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men,” said Dr. Brent Parnell, a urogynecologist at Augusta University Women’s Health. “In fact, those numbers may be even higher, as many Americans don’t report the condition, either because they’re embarrassed or they assume it’s just another symptom of aging.”

Don’t be embarrassed — help is available

If your doctor diagnoses OAB, he or she can recommend a variety of treatments, many of which do not involve drugs. In fact, non-drug treatments such as bladder training and simple lifestyle changes may be recommended as a first line of defense.

  • Keep a journal. The Urology Care Foundation suggests keeping a journal to record what and how much you drink and when you go to the bathroom. This information can help you and your doctor notice patterns between your fluid consumption and urination frequency.
  • Do Kegel exercises. These exercises help strengthen and control your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Try bladder training. Bladder training — scheduling or delaying bathroom trips — can help you feel more in control of your urge to urinate.
  • Watch your fluids. Work with your doctor on limiting your fluid intake, especially before bedtime.

Gotta Go?

While lifestyle changes may not cure your OAB, they may help relieve your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe or don’t respond to lifestyle changes, medication or other treatments may be necessary. Schedule an appointment with an Augusta University urogynecologist if you have questions about your bladder health. Call 706-721-4959, or visit augustahealth.org/urogyn.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.