Urinary Frequency and Urgency Problems
Frederick R. Jelovsek MD
I have the feeling of having to urinate constantly. I do not have leakage and all urine cultures and tests have come back fine. My doctor says I have a hyper-active or over-active bladder.
Can you tell me how common is this, what causes it, and how do you distinguish between over-active bladder and other causes such as interstitial cystitis? Also, please tell me the treatment.
Overactive bladder is not uncommon in women. We do not know what causes it but the end result is bladder contractions that occur on their on without the stimulation of an actual full bladder.
Most of the time you have urgency symptoms but not bad pain. Then you have to go to empty your bladder; otherwise you will probably leak.
If you have a full feeling all the time with no real urgency or you just have the feeling that the urethra (as opposed to the bladder) is starting the urge, you may have something other than just overactive bladder.
For example, ovarian cysts or bowel spasticity can cause a full feeling and urethral syndrome can cause a urethral urgency.
The hallmarks of interstitial cystitis are:
- urgency without incontinence
- daytime frequency more than 8 voids per day
- nighttime frequency more than 4 voids per night
- bladder pain relieved by voiding
Be sure to see our disease profile about interstitial cystitis. The key difference between overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis is at night. Overactive bladder will have 4 or less voids per night while interstitial cystitis will have many more episodes of nocturia.
Overactive bladder is treated by anti cholinergic or anti-muscarinic agents. Popular ones are oxybutrin (Ditropan®, Ditropan XL®, tolterodine (Detrol®), imipramine, dicyclomine, and propantheline. Flavoxate does not appear to be very effective.
Bladder frequency, urethral discomfort and low estrogen
Is there a connection between uncomfortable bladder symptoms and the use of IM depotestadiol. After an injection (every other month) or when my estrogen drops too low, I have frequent urination, sense of fullness or pressure in the bladder and an uncomfortable sensation at the entrance of the urethra, maybe the Skene's glands? Pyridium and/or NSAIDs help.
Also, I have noticed a small bulge in the lower portion of my vagina (behind the bladder)about the size of a walnut. Do you know what this could be?
Yes. When estrogens are low, the urethral mucosa gets quite thin and more prone to infection and irritation. Estrogen usually helps this by thickening the skin (mucosa) lining the inside of the urethra making it less sensitive to drying out, rubbing or even vaginal bacteria.
The small bulge could be a cystocele which is the bladder itself or the end of the vagina, i.e., vaginal prolapse. If this is the case and you are having pressure symptoms or any difficulty voiding or initiating stool, then surgical repair will usually cure or decrease symptoms.