Simple Cures for Overactive Bladders
There is Such a Thing as Drinking Too Much Water…
I came to Athena for a second opinion after I was diagnosed with an overactive bladder. I had been started on Detrol (a medication to help my bladder hold more urine and give me more time to make it to the bathroom) and had also been told to retrain my bladder and hold it longer before urinating. I was peeing frequently with severe urgency and my bladder was in pain.
My urologist/urogynecologist at Athena did such a thorough evaluation and took time to review my symptoms. She asked me to complete a urinary diary where she was strict about having me record how much I drank and even gave me a little device to measure how much. When she reviewed my diary, she told me that I was drinking too much water. I was shocked! I didn’t know there is such a thing as drinking too much water. I found out that I was holding too much urine in my bladder. My doctor told me that there wasn’t a pill in the world that could help my frequency because my bladder was truly full and doing its job. Waiting even longer was bad since it was so full already.
She stopped my Detrol right away and had me decrease my fluid intake to a normal amount. Since I had developed some bad urinary habits I also did a short course of pelvic floor physical therapy to correct those issues. And I am happy to report that by 8 weeks I was feeling normal, off all medications and…I’m not a patient anymore!
…And Doing Too Many Kegels
I first came to Athena Women’s Health because I was urinating frequently and it was disrupting my day. My life had come to center around bathrooms and I dreaded shopping at the grocery store or any social outing because my frequent trips to the ladies room were embarrassing. There is nothing like leaving the dinner table in front of everyone several times before the main course is served.
A doctor had started me on a medication to relax my bladder which would allow me to hold urine for longer periods of time, but this had not helped and in fact, I think it made me worse. I had also read online that Kegel exercises might help and so I was doing these exercises 75-100 times a day and would routinely try to stop my urine stream when peeing to see if my muscles were strong enough.
During my initial evaluation by an Athena doctor, it was discovered during a bladder ultrasound that I was not emptying my bladder. I had no idea and was so surprised to see how much was left in my bladder after I had just gone to the bathroom. I was diagnosed with a high tone pelvic floor (tight pelvic muscles). She explained that the tight pelvic muscles (who knew?) were preventing me from emptying my bladder. Because I was never emptying my bladder completely, it was leading me to visit the bathroom more frequently.
The medication was actually making it harder for me to empty and was why my frequency had actually gotten worse. She told me to stop doing Kegels immediately! She said they could worsen my urinary symptoms. Also, she told me that using Kegel exercises during voiding could lead to incomplete emptying.
I was referred to physical therapy to work on relaxing my pelvic muscles and fully relax while emptying my bladder. Within 6-8 weeks, my bladder was emptying again, and guess what—no more frequency!! I was discharged since my problem resolved and I did not need medications or a procedure to treat my urinary symptoms.
Botox – Not Just for the Face Anymore
I had recently moved to Seattle from the east coast where my urge incontinence had been treated with medication and two different types of nerve stimulation procedures. The move was sudden and unfortunately during the middle of an ongoing evaluation to see why I was having such severe and continued incontinence. To be honest, I did not feel that my problem was taken seriously because of my age. Maybe that is my imagination but it’s how I felt.
At the time I came to Athena I was wearing 4 adult undergarments every day. My skin was on fire because the urine was so irritating to my skin. I am older but very active and healthy for my age so wearing what amounts to diapers was extremely upsetting for me. Worse yet I could actually smell the urine and that made me embarrassed to meet new people here.
My daughter is the one who brought me to Athena Women’s Health since she had been a patient here. My Athena doctor was very understanding, and listened to my woes. Frankly, I did not think there was much she was going to be able to do since I had had this issue for seven years. She reviewed all of my records and then offered several options including one I had never heard of before—bladder Botox injections.
I have to tell you that I laughed because I was pretty sure Botox was for making movie stars and rich people look beautiful. What she said next was even more surprising. She told me “with a procedure like bladder Botox injections you might be able to wear regular underwear again without pads.” I was very skeptical at this point but she seemed confident. She told me this was an office-based procedure that would just take a few minutes. Well, with the prompting from my daughter I decided to go forward with the procedure. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
My doctor told me it might take a few days to take effect and that she would see me in two weeks to see how I was doing. And guess what? I followed up in two weeks and miraculously, I was no longer having any leakage. And what she said was true—I was in regular underwear!