Overactive Bladder (OAB)

The providers at Minnesota Urology have many options for the treatment of overactive bladder.

Minnesota Urology is the best choice because our physicians and staff are dedicated to finding the right solution for the right patient. We take pride in offering the complete range of appropriate options, from conservative to surgical, and in helping you make an informed choice. Because we are trained and practiced in treating overactive bladder, and will offer you the best chance to improve your quality of life.

What is overactive bladder?

OAB is a condition with symptoms of urinary frequency and urgency, and may include urinary leakage associated with a bothersome degree of urge to get to the bathroom.

Who gets OAB?

It is a common condition, afflicting over 33 million Americans. It may occur among both sexes and ages.

Is it really a problem?

Yes, it is. Patients with OAB suffer physical and emotional harm from the problem. They have been shown to have a significantly decreased quality of life, causing extreme embarrassment, limiting their social interactions, employment opportunities, trips outside the home, promoting social isolation and depression. It is not unusual for patients to dehydrate themselves in order to minimize the symptoms of OAB, which may have other unintended health consequences such as falls and hip fractures among the elderly. Patients often spend hundreds of dollars annually on pads and diapers in order to contain the leakage. As one of our 20 something patients once told us “It’s not like you put a diaper on and then you are normal!”

What can be done about OAB?

Lots! Most people are aware that there are medications for the woman who has “gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now!” However, despite of the fact that many brands of medication have been available for decades, they mostly work about the same, and for most patients, particularly younger ones with few other health concerns, they prove to be a limited and unsustainable solution for the problem due to incomplete benefit and side effects, including dry mouth and constipation. Plus, medications don’t solve the problem; they simply attempt to minimize the symptoms. While medications are an option for all of our patients, other options are often more successful and desirable.

At Minnesota Urology, we have developed an OAB roadmap. This includes all of the many treatments that are currently proven to work for OAB. Our providers can walk each patient through the wide variety of treatment types available.

Conservative options – Many of our patients will present ready to start with the first conservative steps that, in addition to drugs, include behavioral therapies, biofeedback or physical therapy. Patients are often surprised how well conservative options can impact their condition, and we are always satisfied when something simple, inexpensive, safe, and reversible proves to be the right solution for a particular patient.

Advanced options – Some of our patients will have already tried and failed conservative options, and this provides a starting point for advanced options for OAB. They include nerve stimulation therapies similar to acupuncture (UrgentPC), or implantable devices that are like a pacemaker (InterStim). Injection of the bladder with Botox can also be used to successfully treat OAB symptoms. Each option has pros and cons for an individual patient, and our providers are expert in helping patients to weigh them and decide what may work best in each case. We are dedicated to helping patients with this problem, and will continue to work to improve symptoms with the increasingly wide range of options, which are currently available. When our patients are happy, we are happy. If they are still being bothered by symptoms, we will continue to offer appropriate solutions. There is rarely a patient with this problem who we cannot help.

How is OAB evaluated? – The good old-fashioned history and physical are often all that’s needed to get started with successful treatment. We also check the urine for signs of infection or blood, and in some cases recommend additional urine tests or cystoscopy (telescope exam of the bladder). Sometimes imaging with x-rays or ultrasound, or specialized testing of the bladder function called urodynamics are needed. This is more often true for patients who have failed conservative options, and before moving on to advanced treatments. We need to be sure we fully understand the problem and direct you to the safest and best option for your particular condition. This may be different for one patient versus another.