Potty Talk: Discussing Bladder Health With Our Doctors

The following is the inaugural post in a series on overactive bladder (OAB) by Dr. Karen Noblett, a California based OB/GYN and expert in urinary incontinence and overactive bladder.

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Dr. Karen Noblett, expert on overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.

Overactive bladder (OAB), a bladder-related pelvic floor disorder (PFD), is not a normal part of aging. There are easy solutions and women do not have to suffer in silence. Treatment options include using medication or a pessary (a device designed to lift the bladder), physical therapy, electrical nerve stimulation to stimulate the nerves that control bladder or bowel functions, and biofeedback to improve sensation and muscle strength in the pelvic floor. Many of these procedures can be done in 20 minutes or less. Time is important to women – which is often a reason many women put off dealing with the issue in general. In addition to time, it’s a personal decision so we consult for the quality of life issues – for those that want to run again, enjoy sex again, etc. For many women, healthy activities like these are put on hold while they work around bladder control issues.

The PFD Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of PFDs, encourages women to talk to their doctors and start the process to wellness. In order to aid the conversation, they encourage women to ask themselves the following questions before visiting a doctor:

1. Do you wake up from sleeping to urinate? If so, how often?

2. How often do you urinate during the day?

3. Do you ever feel like you have to urinate and when you arrive at the toilet you don’t have to go anymore?

4. Do you find yourself mapping out routes to the closest toilet when you are out?

5. Do you ever experience leakage or involuntary urination?

Remember to be open and honest about your family history and your symptoms, and keep in mind that with the right tools and conversations with your doctor, you can help treat OAB.

To learn more about overactive bladder, read the Vitals Urge Incontinence Patient Guide.