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First-Line Therapies for Overactive Bladder

First-line therapies typically do not cure OAB but can help minimize symptoms.

Physical Therapy

The goal of physical therapy for treating OAB symptoms is to decrease urinary urgency and improve the coordination between the bladder and pelvic floor muscles for improved urinary control.

  • Bladder training or delayed voiding – This involves controlling the urge to urinate by waiting a few extra minutes after you feel the urge at first, and then gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits.
  • Timed urination – You follow a set schedule for going to the bathroom. Instead of going when you feel the urge, you train yourself, and your bladder, to go at the scheduled time of day. Your physical therapist will determine if this is right for you.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises – These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles to help minimize urine leakage.
Lifestyle Modifications
  • Fluid and diet management – Limit or eliminate foods and drinks that may irritate the bladder such as caffeine, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, certain sodas, citrus, and acidic and spicy foods.
  • Keep a bladder diary – Keep track of when and how often you go to the bathroom to urinate to help your doctor better understand your OAB symptoms.
  • Absorbent incontinence pads – Absorbent pads made specifically for urinary incontinence can protect your clothing and keep you dry, helping you avoid embarrassing incidents if you do experience incontinence during social situations or activities.
Other Treatment Options Include:
  • Medications. Anticholinergics or Beta-3 agonists relax the bladder to prevent spasms. These medications can decrease the severe urge to urinate and may also enable the bladder to hold more urine without frequent leakage because the bladder is more relaxed. Improvement in urge symptoms may take time and some side effects are possible.
  • Neuromodulation therapy works by addressing the communication lapse between your brain and the nerves that control your bladder. When these nerves are not communicating properly, the bladder has problems functioning as it should, resulting in incontinence issues.
  • Botox injections. Used in small doses, Botox relaxes the bladder muscles, helping to minimize frequent bladder contractions. Botox injections are FDA approved to treat adults with OAB who cannot use or do not respond to medications known as anticholinergics. Botox injections typically last six to nine months and carry a small risk of urinary retention.


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Appointments & Information

*If this is an emergency, please call 911 immediately.

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Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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