There are several lifestyle interventions available for the management of overactive bladder (OAB), including:
Lifestyle interventions may be used alone or in combination with medications. Talk to your doctor about which interventions would be appropriate for you.
Caffeine and alcohol can irritate the bladder and increase urination. You can help manage overactive bladder by limiting your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
Your doctor may suggest that you decrease your fluid intake to help relieve your symptoms. You should always discuss any change in fluid intake with your doctor first, especially if you have kidney stones or a urinary tract infection. Restricting your fluids too much can aggravate your overactive bladder symptoms because bladder irritants are not cleared as well from the bladder.
To prevent having to urinate during the night, limit your fluid intake 3 to 6 hours before going to bed.
Other lifestyle changes that may help with managing overactive bladder include losing weight, taking precautions against urinary tract infections (e.g., wiping front to back to avoid contamination with bacteria from stool), and preventing constipation (e.g., eating a high-fibre diet, exercising regularly).
Bladder training can help your bladder hold a larger volume of urine. It can also help you gain more control over the urge to urinate. With bladder training, you gradually increase the time between bathroom visits. This will decrease urgency and leakage of urine over time. Your doctor can help you with this technique and help you schedule times to visit the bathroom. A bladder diary will help you keep track of your schedule.
Timed voiding can also help you become more aware of your bladder. With this technique, voiding times are scheduled and set often enough to avoid symptoms of overactive bladder. This technique is often used as the starting point for bladder training.
Pelvic floor muscle therapy (PFMT), which includes Kegel exercises, involves alternately contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. To find out if you are contracting the right muscles, try stopping your urine flow while you're urinating. The muscles you use here are the same ones that you will use for pelvic floor muscle exercises.
An example of a pelvic floor muscle exercise is to contract and release the pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds at a time. Keep increasing the time until you are tensing the muscles for 10 seconds and releasing them for 10 seconds. Do 3 sets of 15 exercises per day.
If you're having trouble finding the right muscles, talk to your doctor for help. Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help prevent involuntary contraction of the detrusor muscle by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. To be successful, it's important to follow your health care professional's recommended program. When done diligently, the benefits of of these exercises are usually seen in a few months.
A procedure known as FES involves electrically stimulating a nerve in the pelvic floor to cause muscles to contract or prevent the bladder muscles from contracting. This is useful if you have difficulty contracting the pelvic muscles yourself.
Biofeedback is a training process that helps people gain more control over their pelvic floor muscles. It can be used to help people gain more benefit from pelvic floor muscle exercises. Biofeedback can use FES and other techniques (such as vaginal balloons) to help identify the correct muscles.
When starting a new treatment, it's important to know what to expect, including when it will start working, which symptoms it will help with, and how much you can expect it to help with your symptoms. To learn more about what to expect from your treatment, see Getting the most from your treatment, or speak to your doctor.
Did you find what you were looking for on our website? Please let us know.