Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Overactive bladder is a specific type of urge incontinence that occurs when the bladder muscle is overactive and contracts too often, even when it is not full. You may or may not be able to get to the bathroom on time when these urges occur.


The main symptoms are:

  • the strong urge to urinate
  • the need to urinate often
  • needing to urinate again after having just gone to the bathroom
  • waking up at night more than twice with the need to urinate
  • incontinence may or may not occur before you can get to the bathroom

What causes overactive bladder?

Overactive bladder can be caused by infection, stress and medical disorders but in many cases, doctors don’t know what causes OAB.

How is OAB treated?


The first step to managing overactive bladder involves retraining the bladder to hold more urine before contracting and learning techniques to control the urge and delay the need to visit the washroom. If incontinence is a part of your overactive bladder symptoms strengthening the pelvic floor by doing pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) will help.

It is also important to maintain a healthy bladder by limiting substances that can irritate the bladder as outlined in the Healthy Bladder Habits section.

Medications can also be useful to help relax the bladder muscle and decrease urinary urgency and frequency. Some of the medications that your doctor might prescribe can be found in the Medications section.

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Last Updated April 25, 2016 | © 2007, LHSC, London Ontario Canada