What is an Overactive Bladder?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

An overactive bladder is a situation in which the muscles of the bladder contract in such a way that the individual experiences an urgent need to urinate repeatedly during the course of the day. While the contractions can take place whether or not the bladder is filling, when contractions take place while the bladder is near full capacity, incontinence may also result. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to deal with an overactive bladder and alleviate the suffering and embarrassment caused by the condition.

A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.

While an active bladder that is functioning normally will contract when a full bladder is achieved, there is typically little to no effort required to control the process of urination. This makes it possible for someone with a full bladder to visit a restroom without experiencing a great deal of urgency. With an overactive bladder, there is usually a sense of being about to lose control, a state that can cause a great deal of anxiety and increase the rate and the strength of the contractions.

Ginger root can be used to treat an infection that causes an overactive bladder,.
Ginger root can be used to treat an infection that causes an overactive bladder,.

One of the most basic ways to treat an overactive bladder involves pelvic exercises coupled with bladder training. The pelvic exercises are designed to strengthen the groups of muscles that help to control the process of urination. Kegel exercises are considered excellent for developing more reliable bladder control. Since Kegels can be performed discreetly, anyone with an overactive bladder can perform sets of the exercise while sitting at a desk, watching television or even when reclining on a sofa or bed.

An overactive bladder causes the urge to urinate often.
An overactive bladder causes the urge to urinate often.

To complement the pelvic exercises, a systematic bladder training regimen is sometimes considered useful. This involves fighting the urge to give in to the frequent urination impulse and only urinate at specific times during the day. Sometimes referred to as scheduled voiding, this is an attempt to recondition the mind’s response to the contractions and regain control of the health issue. As the mind exerts influence over the function of the bladder, the contractions become easier to deal with and sometimes diminish entirely.

Bladder training is a common treatment for an overactive bladder.
Bladder training is a common treatment for an overactive bladder.

Along with exercises and retraining the mind and bladder, many people turn to modern medicine for assistance. When an individual finds he or she experiences the urge to urinate in excess of eight times a day, there is definitely one or more bladder problems taking place. A complete physical can help determine if there are any illnesses present that are interfering with the normal function of the bladder. If so, there are a number of medications that can be used to treat an overactive bladder. Some of these medications are formulated to deal with a relatively mild and usually short-term bladder issue. Other medications are intended for long-term use.

Herbs are sometimes helpful in dealing with an overactive bladder. Cayenne, found in many hot peppers, can sometimes help to desensitize the nerves in the bladder and ease the frequency and strength of the contractions. Peach bark, chamomile, and ginger root may also help with any infections that contribute to the activity of an overactive bladder. Before combining the use of herbs along with prescription medication, it is important to consult a physician, as there could be a negative interaction.

An overactive bladder may be due to the presence of an infection.
An overactive bladder may be due to the presence of an infection.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I would like to speak to the part about hot peppers. If you look online, you will see many sites that say to avoid hot peppers. However, I first happened upon one that said they might help.

I was having strong urges to pee about every 45 minutes and there was very little produced. I bought a jar of pickled jalapenos and started eating a spoonful about three times a day. Day by day I returned to normal, and it only took about a week.

It's good to get to sleep all night without having to get up six to eight times. They say that the capsicum is not water soluble and therefore does not actually go into the bladder. It does go into the bloodstream however, and my guess is that it does something to the muscles to relax them. All I know is that it works for me. If you can't stand the burn, you might could try capsicum capsules.


interstitial cystitis is a condition which is similar to over active bladder but also gives you pain during urination and severe urgency.


One perhaps unexpected natural overactive bladder treatment is pumpkin.

Pumpkin seeds are one of the only natural remedies for the treatment of overactive bladder that has actually undergone a reasonably widespread clinical study.

Apparently the fatty acids in the vegetable and its seeds help to maintain prostate health, and also are good for supporting bladder function in women after menopause.


@CopperPipe -- Are you sure it's an overactive bladder?

Pain is not one of the usual overactive bladder symptoms, though I suppose it could be associated, particularly if you had an overactive bladder combined with another condition, say bladder spasms.

Those often do cause pain, and could be mistaken for an overactive bladder.

Another possible cause could be advanced interstitial cystitis, which is another condition similar to overactive bladder.

This condition can produce the same problems as an overactive bladder, but is much more usually associated with pain.


What could be some of the causes of overactive bladder with pain?

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