Urology Specialists of Santa Barbara

Do you have Overactive Bladder (OAB) symptoms?

If you answer “yes” to one of more of these questions, you may have OAB.

  1. I use the bathroom more than 8 times during the day
  2. I get up more than twice during the night to use the bathroom
  3. I am bothered by the number of times I have to go
  4. I often have an overwhelming urge to urinate, an urge that is difficult to ignore
  5. I’ve had wetting accidents because I am unable to control the urge to go and can’t get to the restroom in time

To learn more about OAB, read through the following information or talk to your clinician.

What is OAB?

Symptoms:  OAB is used to describe a collection of symptoms.  A patient may have one or more of these symptoms:

  1. A sudden, intense urge to urinate (urinary urgency), sometimes followed by the loss of urine (urge incontinence)
  2. Urinating more than 8 times daily or twice at night (urinary frequency).

Cause: OAB is generally caused by bladder muscles that are overly sensitive or overactive.  This overactivity is caused by damage to nervous system or to the nerves and muscles associated with bladder. The cause of the nerve damage is often unidentified and you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Overactive Bladder symptoms of urinary urgency, urinary frequency or urge incontinence may be present in people with interstitial cystitis or post-radical prostatectomy.

Prevalence: It is estimated that over 16% of the adult population have one or more of these symptoms.  Both men and women can have OAB.

How is OAB treated?

A variety of treatments are available, including behavior modification, pelvic muscle strengthening, medications and neuromodulation.

Behavioral Modifications:

  • Scheduled Toileting: the patient is prompted to use the bathroom every 2-4 hours.
  • Bladder Training: involves scheduled toileting in which the length of time between bathroom visits is gradually increased. 
  • Pelvic Muscle Rehabilitation: pelvic floor exercises, commonly referred to as Kegel exercises, are often recommended. Depending on the severity of a patient's symptoms, Kegel exercises may be combined with:
    • Pelvic muscle stimulation: mild electrical stimulation to help automate the process of performing Kegel exercises.  Stimulation is generally applied using a home-use device.
    • Biofeedback: a process using visual or auditory signals to assist targeting the right muscle during exercise.

Drug Therapy: Anticholinergics or antimuscarinics may be prescribed. Hormone therapy, such as estrogen creams, may also be effective in helping to improve pelvic floor muscle function.

Neuromodulation: Bladder function is regulated by a group of nerves at the base of the spine called the sacral nerve plexus. By stimulating these nerves through gentle electrical impulses (neuromodulation), your bladder activity can be changed.  This can be done through an office-based procedure or by surgically implanting a device in your buttock.

Urology Specialists of Santa Barbara
5333 Hollister Ave.
Suite 275
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
Phone: 805.687.7719
Fax: 805.682.2971