FEATURE — There are two basic kinds of bladder dysfunction women can experience: stress incontinence (leaking with coughing, sneezing, jumping, et cetera) and urge incontinence, also known as an overactive bladder. Some myths persists about overactive bladder, so let’s see how you do on this true or false quiz:
1. Overactive bladder symptoms are almost identical to those of a bladder infection.
Most women who present with frequency and urgency get treated with antibiotics as if treating for an infection, and usually a urine culture is never requested. This isn’t unreasonable, but if this keeps happening, the urine needs to be cultured. If no organism is cultured out, then it is overactive bladder until proven otherwise.
2. It is a normal part of aging.
While it is more common for women to experience overactive bladder as they age, is it not normal. If it is affecting your quality of life, no matter what your age is, you should talk to your gynecologist about it.
3. It is basically a neurological problem, not a change in anatomy or aging tissues.
For some reason, in some women, there is a message being sent from the bladder to the spinal cord that things are full and it’s time to empty bladder. Now. Right now. So it can happen to a women who has had 10 kids. It can happen to a women who has never been pregnant.
4. Surgery is very successful in curing this problem.
If you have an overactive bladder, surgery will only make things worse. Remember, this is a neurological problem, not an anatomic one. If you have an overactive bladder and surgery is recommended, get another opinion.
5. Medications are helpful in treating overactive bladder.
The first line of treatment in women with overactive bladder is a medication to help “relax” the bladder muscle. Other treatments include bladder retraining exercises and timed voiding (emptying your bladder a timed intervals). This works for the vast majority of women with overactive bladder.
For those cases where it is extremely severe, Botox injections can be useful, as well as implantable neuromodulation units. But it is rare to need those.
If you have overactive bladder, talk to your doctor about it. The solution may be easier than you thought.
- Dr. Sean Lynn practices at St. George Women’s Health Center in St. George | Telephone: 435-218-7770.
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