Overactive bladder symptoms affect sexual activity of women says Univ. of Pittsburgh study

05/06/04

SAN FRANCISCO, May 9 – Women who experience overactive bladder are less likely to enjoy sexual activity, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. Overactive bladder, a condition where the muscle surrounding the bladder contracts spastically causing frequent urination and incontinence, affects more than 8 million women worldwide. Results of this study will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in San Francisco, and published in abstract 342 in the AUA proceedings.

In the University of Pittsburgh study, presented by Subodh Patel, M.D., 78 women diagnosed with overactive bladder completed two questionnaires: one that evaluated the presence and degree of bother caused by their symptoms of overactive bladder; and one that evaluated the patient's sexual function.

By comparing answers on both questionnaires, the researchers found that women who expressed a higher degree of bother as a result of urge urinary incontinence were less likely to enjoy sexual activity and less sexually active. Those who experienced a significant amount of genital or abdominal pain were less likely to enjoy sexual activity, but were more likely to experience sexual thoughts or fantasies.

"Overactive bladder is so prevalent, and, as shown by this study, its effects reach beyond the commonly thought of symptoms like incontinence to the inability to enjoy sexual activity," said Michael Chancellor, M.D., professor of gynecology and urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "There is still a stigma about talking to a doctor about overactive bladder. Women need to know that they don't have to accept the symptoms of overactive bladder and that there are treatments that can ease their symptoms."

More than 17 million Americans, half of whom are women, suffer from overactive bladder, a condition that significantly affects the quality of life. An estimated 80 percent of these patients do not seek help or treatment for this condition. Overactive bladder is characterized by the following conditions: frequency – urinating more than eight times in a 24 hour period; urgency – the immediate and strong urge to urinate; and urge incontinence – the inability to suppress urgency, resulting in the leaking or loss of urine.

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