Do I Have Overactive Bladder?

A constant urge to urinate isn’t something to ignore or attribute to being “hydrated.” Overactive bladder is a common condition in both men and women. So, what exactly is overactive bladder? Dr. Staskin, Director of Urology at Boston Clinical Trials, shared an insightful article from MayoClinic with us:

Overactive bladder, also called OAB, causes a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control. You may feel like you need to urinate many times during the day and night and may also experience unintentional loss of urine, called urgency incontinence.

If you have an overactive bladder, you may feel embarrassed, isolate yourself, or limit your work and social life. The good news is that a brief evaluation can determine whether there’s a specific cause for your overactive bladder symptoms.

You may be able to manage symptoms of an overactive bladder with simple behavioral strategies, such as dietary changes, timed voiding and bladder-holding techniques using your pelvic floor muscles. If these initial efforts don’t help enough with your overactive bladder symptoms, additional treatments are available.

Is frequent urination the only symptom?

If you have an overactive bladder, you may:

  • Feel a sudden urge to urinate that’s difficult to control
  • Experience unintentional loss of urine immediately after an urgent need to urinate (urgency incontinence)
  • Urinate frequently, usually eight or more times in 24 hours
  • Wake up more than two times in the night to urinate (nocturia)

Even if you are able to get to the toilet in time when you sense an urge to urinate, unexpected frequent urination and nighttime urination can disrupt your sleep.

How do I know when it may be a problem?

Although it’s not uncommon among older adults, overactive bladder isn’t a normal part of aging. It might not be easy to discuss your symptoms, but if they are distressing you or disrupting your life, talk to your doctor. Treatments are available that might help you.

What kind of diagnostic tests can I expect my doctor to order?

Your doctor may order tests to assess how well your bladder is functioning and its ability to empty steadily and completely (urodynamic tests). These tests usually require a referral to a specialist and may not be necessary to make a diagnosis or begin treatment. Urodynamic tests include:

  • Measuring urine left in the bladder. This test is important if there’s concern about your ability to empty your bladder completely when you urinate. Remaining urine in the bladder (post-void residual urine) may cause symptoms identical to those of an overactive bladder.

To measure residual urine after you have voided, your doctor may request an ultrasound scan of your bladder. The ultrasound scan translates sound waves into an image, showing how much urine is left in your bladder after you urinate. In some cases, a thin tube (catheter) is passed through the urethra and into your bladder to drain the remaining urine, which can then be measured.

  • Measuring urine flow rate. To measure the volume and speed of your voiding, you may be asked to urinate into a device (uroflowmeter). A uroflowmeter catches and measures the urine and translates the data into a graph your flow rate.
  • Testing bladder pressures. Cystometry is a test that measures pressure in your bladder and in the surrounding region as your bladder fills. During this test, your doctor uses a thin tube (catheter) to fill your bladder slowly with warm fluid. Another catheter with a pressure-measuring sensor is placed in the rectum or, for women, in the vagina. The sensor tells how much pressure your bladder has to exert to empty completely.

This procedure can identify whether you have involuntary muscle contractions or a stiff bladder that’s not able to store urine under low pressure.

Do you think you may have OAB? Have you been diagnosed with OAB and are interested in other treatment options? Boston Clinical Trials is currently conducting male overactive bladder studies to help people like you! Visit our OAB page for more information at

The information for this blog post comes from this article from MayoClinic: