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You are Not Alone
Overactive bladder is extremely common. Treatment options can help you live a full life.
More than 50 percent of women are struggling with insecurities, shame and a minimized life because of an overactive bladder. Overactive bladder is the name for a group of symptoms that include feeling that you need to urinate urgently, needing to urinate frequently during the day and night, and sometimes incontinence or leaking urine with the “gotta go” feeling. It is a condition that is extremely common — and treatable — in women around the world.
Dr. Mary Duarte Thibault, a urogynecologist at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and an Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, says what’s most important is that women know they are not alone.
“When women are first faced with incontinence, the impulse is to withdraw and cope with the condition by themselves,” Duarte Thibault said. “Women may feel embarrassed and isolated, but there is a wealth of information, as well as treatments and medications, available to correct the condition.”
Duarte Thibault added that many women avoid asking for help because they believe it’s a natural part of aging. “They think it’s just something that comes with getting older and that you just have to live with,” she said.
However, it doesn’t have to be. With proper treatment, most women at any age can experience an incontinence-free lifestyle. Generally, surgery is required only in the most complex cases.
Dr. Francisco Orejuela, a urogynecologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine, agrees with Duarte Thibault and provides a few tips for combatting incontinence.
- Make lifestyle changes. These can include changes in diet and fluid intake, weight loss, and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and smoking. Some women are drinking large amounts of fluids each day (more than two liters) and that can contribute to the need to frequently urinate.
- Don’t become dehydrated. Be mindful of fluid intake, but also know that drinking less water may not necessarily improve symptoms. In fact, it can lead to more concentrated urine, which can irritate the bladder and cause more frequent urination.
- Address underlying irritants. These can include caffeine, alcohol, and smoking as these things are known to irritate the bladder. Also, bladder stones and medications can be contributing to bladder symptoms.
- Keep a diary. When women spend a few days tracking how often they empty their bladder, it can be eye-opening. It can also help a physician diagnose the condition and identify possible dietary irritants. Things to keep track of include when the urge to urinate occurs, leakage amount and what they were doing at the time, along with foods and the amount of fluids consumed each day.
If you are experiencing bothersome bladder symptoms know that you are not alone and that you don’t have to accept your symptoms as normal!
A urogynecologist is an OB/GYN who specializes in the care of women with pelvic floor disorders and can provide the expertise needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment of bladder symptoms in an environment just for women!
Learn more about Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and the services provided.