Understanding Urinary Incontinence

Top 10 Myths About Overactive Bladder

ABush Oct 3rd, 2012 (updated Nov 19th, 2014)
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Only in older women
Only in older women

According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), while OAB is more common in post-menopausal women, about 17 percent of women over age 18 (and 16 percent of men) have OAB.  After 40, that number increases to 20 percent for both men and women.

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Causes urinary tract infections
Causes urinary tract infections

UTIs are one of the most common infections in the body. Bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body, and can multiply in the bladder.  Like OAB, a UTI can cause leaks and the need to urinate.  UTIs, however, are treated with antibiotics and once the infection is gone, the OAB-like symptoms should dissipate.  

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Urge vs stress incontinence
Urge vs stress incontinence

Urge incontinence, in which you leak after a strong feeling you need to go, can be a symptom of OAB. It can also be caused by other medical conditions, such as diabetes, infection or stroke. Stress incontinence is leaking when you cough, sneeze or do strenuous exercise and is another condition entirely. It’s usually caused by weakness in the sphincter or pelvic muscles rather than a nerve issue. 

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Kegel exercises help
Kegel exercises help

Kegel exercises, in which you squeeze together the muscles of your pelvic wall, won’t cure OAB. But they can help manage the condition and are often recommended as part of treatment. 

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Drinking more liquid helps
Drinking more liquid helps

Too much liquid can lead to OAB, especially caffeinated drinks, which work as a diuretic, thus making you pee more.

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Bladder size contributes
Bladder size contributes

The real issue with OAB is not the size of your bladder – what’s “normal” varies anyway – but that you’re contracting your bladder more than you should, a result of abnormal nerve signals to your bladder.

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Sexual intercourse causes it
Sexual intercourse causes it

Engaging in sexual intercourse does not contribute to overactive bladder, but if you do have OAB, you may accidentally urinate during sex or not enjoy it because you feel the urge to pee. Don’t worry; both issues should go away when your OAB is treated. 

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Pubovaginal sling treatment
Pubovaginal sling treatment

The pubovaginal sling also known as "the hammock" is becoming increasingly popular in managing urinary incontinence in women. In this surgical procedure, a urologist places a stretchy band in the area of the urethra to provide support against leaks.  However, the hammock doesn’t alleviate the actual urge to pee, and it can sometimes lead to difficulties which can aggravate OAB symptoms.  

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Surgery is the only cure
Surgery is the only cure

Surgery should only be used as a last resort.  There are several steps doctors recommend before looking into surgical options.  These steps include, Behavior modification, such as reducing bladder irritants like caffeinated beverages. Kegel exercises to strengthen bladder control.  And Bladder retraining, a treatment to discover your urination pattern and help you limit bathroom breaks.

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No shame
No shame

A lot of women think OAB is a condition you get when you’re older and that it’s just a fact of life.  Don't assumer you're alone and certainly don't feel embarrassed.