5 Things You Didn’t Know About Overactive Bladder
1. What’s a cystocele?
“A cystocele is a protrusion of the bladder wall into the vagina. There are varying degrees of cystocele. Some may be so extreme that the bladder can drop out beyond the external labia,” explains Dr. Jay Motola, an urologist at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. Fortunately, surgery can repair a cystocele.
2. The origins of Kegel exercises
Created by California gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1948, Kegel exercises were originally adopted to treat women affected by incontinence after childbirth. Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, vagina and rectum. According to Dr. John P. Franz, assistant professor of urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, “Women have been doing these exercises for centuries—there just wasn't much discussion of them.”
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3. How the pelvic floor normally functions
Physical therapist Tasha Mulligan explains, “Our pelvic floor is one of our deepest stabilizers that fires along with our transversus abdominis and our multifidi. These deep stabilizers actually fire a fraction of a second ahead of every lift, reach, cough, etc. in a healthy body. This pre-emptive firing serves the purpose of stabilizing our lumbosacral spine, as all of these muscles attach to and cradle our pelvis and lower spine.”
These pelvic floor muscles help prevent intra-abdominal pressure from forcing our pelvic organs down against the soft tissue of our pelvic floor by shifting the pressure upward, squeezing like a cone, says Mulligan.
4. Why men are less likely to have an overactive bladder than women
Women have shorter urethras (approximately two centimeters long) compared to men, according to urologist Dr. Jennifer Sobol, so less pressure is needed to force urine to leak out of it. Men also have a prostate gland, which helps to increase the resistance against urinary pressure and urge. Moreover, men don’t go through childbirth or menopause—two primary causes of overactive bladder and incontinence.
5. One type of incontinence can lead to another type
De Novo urge incontinence is when a person acquires a new type of incontinence after having a different type fixed. De Novo means “new” in Latin. For example, in a 2008 study published in Neurourology Urodynamics, 27 percent of 281 women reported having overactive bladder (urge incontinence) after undergoing corrective surgery for stress incontinence.