An overactive bladder is a condition that results from sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscle in the wall of the urinary bladder. Overactive bladder causes a sudden and unstoppable need to urinate (urinary urgency). Overactive bladder is also referred to as urge incontinence and is a form of urinary incontinence (unintentional loss of urine). Overactive bladder is especially common in older adults and affects an estimated one in 11 adults in the United States.
The symptoms of an overactive bladder include frequent urination, urgency of urination, and urge incontinence. Overactive bladder may cause significant social, psychological, occupational, domestic, physical, and sexual problems. These symptoms should not be considered a normal part of aging.
The term “pelvic floor” refers to the group of muscles that form a sling or hammock across the opening of a woman's pelvis. These muscles, together with their surrounding tissues, keep all of the pelvic organs in place so that the organs can function correctly. A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the pelvic muscles and connective tissue in the pelvis weaken or are injured. An estimated one-third of all U.S. women are affected by one type of pelvic floor disorder in her lifetime. Disorders may result from pelvic surgery, radiation treatments, and, in some cases, pregnancy or vaginal delivery of a child.
A pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic muscles and tissue become weak and can no longer hold the organs in place correctly. In uterine prolapse, the uterus can press down on the vagina, causing it to invert, or even to come out through the vaginal opening. In vaginal prolapse, the top of the vagina loses support and can drop through the vaginal opening.
Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include:
- feeling of heaviness or fullness or as if something falling out of the vagina
- pulling or aching or a “bulge” in the lower abdomen or pelvis
- kinking in the urethra, making it harder for a woman to empty her bladder completely, cause urinary tract infections