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Most women who aren’t pregnant urinate between four and seven times a day and once at night. Routinely using the bathroom eight or more times a day and more than once at night can be a sign of overactive bladder.
If you have overactive bladder, the bladder muscles may suddenly contract, creating a strong urge to urinate, even when the bladder isn’t full. At the same time, the muscles of the urethra and pelvic floor relax to allow the passage of urine. That means you may urinate when you don’t mean to or rush to the bathroom frequently, even when you have just urinated.
This common problem affects up to 15% of women and happens more often with age. It can be a sign of other health problems, so you should always talk to your doctor about it.
Your doctor might recommend managing your symptoms with these simple lifestyle habits.
Getting treatment can help you enjoy a more active, higher-quality life. About 80% to 90% of women who get treatment see improvement. Options include:
Sacral nerve stimulation uses an implanted device to activate the nerve above your tailbone that controls the bladder. An in-office procedure can check if this controls your symptoms. If it works, a doctor can put the device in your body during a minor surgical procedure.
Tibial nerve stimulation uses a thin needle in the doctor’s office to stimulate a nerve on the inside of the ankle, which connects to the sacral nerve and helps control the bladder.
Incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of urine for any reason, including:
Overactive bladder is a combination of symptoms, including:
Overactive bladder may happen due to:
In addition, your bladder may spasm (contract) due to environmental cues, such as the sound of running water or the sight of the toilet.
Your provider wants to be aware of all your health concerns and connect you with the care you need. At your next appointment, try using words such as, “I’m concerned because there have been several times when I couldn’t control my bladder, and this hasn’t happened to me before. What do you recommend?"
Don’t ignore your symptoms. They could damage your bladder and kidneys or be a sign of an infection or other serious health condition. They may also affect your desire to participate in physical and social activities, which can contribute to anxiety and depression. Treatment can have a significant impact on your quality of life and your ability to be active and live your life the way you want.
Talk to a care navigator or schedule an appointment at the Women’s Health & Wellness Center.