Talking to Your Partner About Overactive Bladder

By

Susan Fishman

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PHYSICIAN CONTRIBUTOR

Expert Answers About Overactive Bladder

Dr. Daniel Elliott answers the most common questions he hears about overactive bladder.

When you gotta go, you gotta go, but you certainly don’t want to talk about it—especially if you have overactive bladder (OAB). Experts believe as many as 30% of men and 40% of women in the U.S. live with OAB symptoms, but the number may be much larger since many people with OAB don't ask for help. Many people even hide their OAB from their significant other because it’s too embarrassing or difficult to talk about. If you don’t know how to explain your bladder challenges, there are a few good places to start.

Bladder Talk

Start with why you’re always in the bathroom. You may think you’ve been able to keep your OAB a secret up until now, but chances are your partner has noticed that you seem to slip off to the restroom quite a bit. He probably won’t be completely shocked to learn that you have to empty your bladder more than most people. Keep the explanation simple, straightforward and light.

Overactive bladder can be an incredibly frustrating condition to live with. Learn from experts and patients about overcoming OAB.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Dispel the myths. There are many myths out there surrounding OAB, and it might make you feel better to know your partner understands the facts. Make him aware there are many treatments for OAB, including surgery that can help you manage your symptoms. Also, be sure to tell him what OAB is not.

  • OAB is not just a normal part of aging.

  • OAB is not just a female problem.

  • OAB is not part of having an enlarged prostate.

  • OAB is not a result of something you did.

Ask for help. Once your partner is aware of your condition, you can then focus on how he can support you. For example, he can help when planning travel and other outings by understanding you need to follow a set, daily bathroom schedule to empty your bladder. He can also help scout out bathrooms in advance when you’re running errands together or dining out.

Explain how it makes you feel. OAB can make it difficult for people to sleep, work, socialize and engage in family activities. It can make you feel nervous, embarrassed, frustrated, even depressed. However it gets in the way, or makes you feel, it’s important your partner understands how it’s affecting your life—so that he can be more compassionate, but also so that he doesn’t jump to the conclusion that you’re avoiding certain activities, events or people for other reasons.

Initiate the sex talk. One of the ways OAB may specifically affect your partner is in the bedroom. When you’re worried about controlling your bladder, it makes it much harder to enjoy sex or even get yourself in the mood. Be sure to explain this to your partner if it’s an issue for you, and let your doctor know your OAB gets in the way of your sex life. It may seem scary to talk about it, but it will be worth the effort to get some tips or treatment that may help.

Let the Truth Set You Free

Discussing such a private matter with your partner may not be easy, but it can finally ease the pressure of having to hide your condition. Even educating trusted family and friends about your OAB can help by extending your support network and making social situations easier. Once you start talking about it, you may be surprised to find out just how common OAB really is, and just how much your partner and loved ones understand.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 1, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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