I am being compensated by Astellas Pharma US, Inc. for this post; however, the opinions expressed here are my own.
An overactive bladder (OAB) is not a problem I thought I would be dealing with as I’ve aged. Okay, well, let me clarify that a little bit. I have dealt with urinary incontinence for a number of years. Specifically, since I gave birth to my children. I mean, carrying an 8‐lb baby around for 9 months while they grind their little heads into your pelvic area, is bound to do something to your bladder, right?
I’ve had my share of “issues,” shall we say? Throwing my hand “down there” and crossing my legs; or getting to the bathroom quickly when I felt the urge coming on. But, I’m waaaay past those years now. Nearly 20, to be exact, and well, I’ve come to the conclusion that my current relationship with the toilet has become a little more complicated.
The truth is, when I have to pee, I’m RUNNING to the bathroom! And sometimes, unfortunately, if I can’t get there fast enough? It ain't pretty, girlfriends.
I’m not too proud to tell you that I have lost control of my bladder so badly at times, I have had to change my clothes. Not just my underwear. But, my pants too. So, yeah, it’s gotten bad.
But guess what? I’m not alone. Because it is estimated that approximately 46 million American adults, age 40 and older, also experience OAB symptoms at least sometimes.1
While that might not be much consolation to some of you, it does bring a bit of odd comfort to me, knowing that I’m not alone in this struggle.
And if you find yourself with the need to urinate often, or if you experience urgency (not being able to wait when you need to go), or bladder leakage resulting from a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, then you might be part of this OAB club, too.2
Yeah, I know. It’s a dubious membership, but, listen, there are answers! Primarily because OAB is a diagnosable medical condition with available treatment options.2 And while it can certainly be embarrassing and not something we want to talk about over coffee, it is a reality for a lot of us. Especially as we age.
How Frequent is Frequent?
You may think that it’s natural to go to the bathroom a lot but actually it could be a symptom of OAB. One of the most obvious symptoms of OAB is frequency: the need to urinate often - usually 8 or more times per day.2
As a matter of fact, many people with OAB plan their daily activities around their frequent need to urinate!3
Well it does for me! I'm extremely mindful of the fact that when it’s time for me to go to the bathroom, it’s time, because I do experience urgency. And when that sudden, uncontrollable urge hits, leakage is usually never too far behind.
You also may not know — I certainly didn’t — that for people with OAB, the brain sends incorrect signals to the bladder, causing it to contract before it's full.4
We Don’t Like to Talk About This — Even to Our Doctor!
It’s hard to imagine that women (and especially moi, who has been blessed with the gift of gab) would have a hard time discussing OAB. But, alas, it’s true. According to a survey of 2,854 women conducted by Astellas, cleverly called the “Peehavior” survey, women age 55+ are more likely to not confide in anyone when it comes to their frequent bathroom visits.5
And you know, if I’m honest about this, it’s true. Certainly, for me. While I’m an open book when it comes to topics that I blog about, OAB and my challenges with it is not something I discuss with anyone — not my family, not my friends, and certainly not my neighbors or co‐workers. I just don’t talk about it.
Let’s Not Suffer in Silence!
While many Americans live with symptoms of OAB, unfortunately, as few as 1 in 8 women will actually seek treatment.6 But treatment options are available.2 The key, when you take steps to seek treatment, is to be prepared. Write down a list of your symptoms, what you’re experiencing, and how they are affecting your daily activities. If it helps, you can even track your symptoms in this cool little bladder diary which you can download here.
The point is, don’t suffer in silence. And when you seek treatment, be confident! Yes, it’s difficult to talk about this topic, but we’re women, right? We often find ourselves in all types of compromising positions when we go to the doctor. So, we’ve got this! Just be honest about your symptoms so your doctor can help determine a plan that’s right for you.
And don’t be afraid to ask more questions if you don’t understand something, or even if you don’t agree. Find out what your options are and stop stalling girlfriend! Everyone pees and clearly, you’re not alone if you are secretly struggling with OAB. But your life doesn’t have to revolve around the symptoms!
For more information about OAB, access to resources, and to read about OAB success stories, check out this website at StopStalling.com.
- Coyne KS, Sexton CC, Vats V, Thompson C, Kopp ZS, Milsom I. National community prevalence of overactive bladder in the United States stratified by sex and age. Urology 2011;77(5):1081-7.
- Gormley EA, Lightner DJ, Burgio KL, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of overactive bladder (non-neurogenic) in adults: AUA/SUFU guideline. American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc. 2014.
- Filipetto FA., Fulda KG, Holthusen AE, McKeithen TM, McFadden P. The patient perspective on overactive bladder: a mixed-methods needs assessment. BMC Family Practice 2014;15:96-101.
- Sadananda P, Drake MJ, Paton JFR, Pickering AE. A functional analysis of the influence of β3-adrenoceptors on the rat micturition cycle. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2013;347(2):506-15.
- Astellas and Ipsos Public Affairs. Data on File.
- Milsom I, Kaplan SA, Coyne KS, Sexton CC, Kopp ZS. Effect of bothersome overactive bladder symptoms on health-related quality of life, anxiety, depression, and treatment seeking in the United States: results from EpiLUTS. Urology 2012;80(1):90-6.