Overactive Bladder Impacts 20 Million Women in the US


Nearly one in five women in the United States suffer from overactive bladder (OAB), yet 80 percent of women with OAB never seek treatment and more than half believe that there are no effective treatments. As a result, women who suffer from OAB try to manage the condition on their own through coping strategies that include pads, dark clothing, toilet mapping and avoiding social activities outside the home. Research shows that trying individual coping strategies may lead to a decline in quality of life, lost productivity and increased psychological distress.

This November, during National Bladder Awareness Month, the PFD (Pelvic Floor Disorder) Alliance wants to help the millions of women living with OAB through the launch of the “Break Free Today” campaign for OAB. The campaign is intended to raise awareness of OAB and empower women to know that they do not have to suffer in silence or try to manage OAB on their own. OAB can be effectively treated by working with a urogynecologist and having a more knowledgeable conversation with your doctor.

OAB is characterized by symptoms that include an uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom, usually along with these other symptoms:

  • --Leakage or involuntary loss of urine
  • --Frequent need to urinate (as much as 8 times or more a day)
  • --Awakening during the night to urinate

“Unfortunately, many women who suffer from OAB either consider it a normal part of aging, or believe there is no available treatment. Women need to know that there are effective ways to treat OAB,” said Karen Noblett, MD, professor and division director for urogynecology at the University of California, Irvine. “By providing women with the knowledge to better understand their OAB symptoms and the tools to track how it affects their life, we hope to help millions improve their health and daily quality of life”.

To “Break Free Today” start with the following steps:

  1. Visit voicesforpfd.org/breakfree to learn more about OAB, use interactive tools to learn more about your symptoms and better prepare to discuss OAB with a doctor.
  2. Refer to the online tool, ‘Five Questions to Ask Yourself’ about OAB, before visiting a doctor to ensure a better dialogue about your individual symptoms.
  3. Use the downloadable ‘Life Impact Tracker’ to uncover how OAB impacts your life over time. Recognizing the ways OAB dictates your day-to-day life is important when speaking with a doctor.
  4. Call a doctor and schedule an appointment to discuss your OAB treatment options.
  5. 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.

“With our ‘Break Free Today’ campaign for OAB, we want to help women get their lives back on track. Toilet mapping, avoiding social situations and negative effects on your sex life do not have to be a reality for people suffering from OAB,” said Kristine E. Whitmore, MD, chair of the American Urogynecologic Society Foundation. “The PFDAlliance is working to bring attention to very common and treatable conditions with the end goal to empower women, and men, to take more control of their health.”

For more information on OAB, visit voicesforpfd.org/breakfree.