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Treatment approaches for overactive bladder syndrome in women produce modest results

Research Activities, October 2009

Drug therapy and behavior interventions produce modest results in reducing overactive bladder symptoms in women, according to a new evidence report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). About 11 million women in the United States cope on a daily basis with overactive bladder syndrome. Symptoms include sudden strong urges to urinate, difficulty delaying going to the bathroom, and, in many cases, involuntary loss of urine when the urge strikes.

Researchers led by Katherine Hartmann, M.D., Ph.D., of the AHRQ-supported Vanderbilt University Evidence-based Practice Center, reviewed research evidence on treatments for overactive bladder. These treatments include prescription medications, both pills and patches; surgeries and procedures; behavioral interventions; and complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, hypnotherapy and reflexology.

Drug therapy was found to be modestly effective at improving one or more overactive bladder symptoms; however, there is no evidence to determine the long-term effectiveness of the drugs. Behavioral interventions yielded results similar to drug therapy in reducing symptoms of overactive bladder. Researchers found little evidence to support the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapies. Procedural and surgical treatments, such as sacral nerve stimulation (neuromodulation), and bladder instillation or injections, were found to treat symptoms in select groups of women, though more information is needed to understand safety and effectiveness.

For more information, go to Treatment for Overactive Bladder in Women at

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Page last reviewed October 2009
Internet Citation: Treatment approaches for overactive bladder syndrome in women produce modest results: Research Activities, October 2009. October 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.