What to Expect With OAB Medications

By

Ja-Hong Kim, MD

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Male doctor discussing medical report with a woman in hospital

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a syndrome that has significant impact on psychosocial functioning. Patients with OAB experience frequent and compelling desires to urinate, and this problem can affect every aspect of life. My patients with OAB are more likely to be depressed; they are more likely to avoid social activities, to stay at home, and be isolated because of the challenges they face due to bladder control issues. And a lot of them don’t seek treatment because it’s an embarrassing issue, or they don’t think there’s anything that can be done. One study showed that it takes people an average of seven years to finally talk to their doctors about OAB. To me, this is a real shame, because there are a lot of effective treatment options for OAB.

Finding the Right Treatment

As a urologist, I like to start with the most conservative, least invasive treatment options and then move on to the more involved. The first line of treatment would be behavioral interventions, also known as lifestyle modifications. These include controlling fluid intake, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, retraining your bladder by scheduling when you’ll urinate, and practicing kegels, or pelvic floor exercises.

Many of my patients do well with the behavioral interventions, but some need further treatment. We’ve also found that patients who treat with behavioral modifications  alone don’t do as well as patients who follow behavioral modifications and also take medications. And conversely, patients who take medications without behavioral modifications do not do as well as patients who treat with both. The combination therapy is far superior to any one treatment option alone.

Your bladder doesn’t have to run your life. Experts share their tips for getting a handle on overactive bladder, whether it’s through lifestyle changes, bladder retraining, or medications.

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

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