Posts Tagged ‘urinary issues’

I’ve thought long and hard about this post and whether or not to write it.  While this might prove valuable to share with other women–like my migraines–it’s a subject that is embarrassing to me.  I mean, really, who wants to talk about pee-pee problems?

I’ve never had a particularly competent bladder, but since last spring my bladder and I have had some serious issues with each other.  Urinary frequency and urgency became every day hassles and I felt like I was always holding, even if I’d just left the bathroom.  The location of the nearest bathroom became my constant focus–when I was driving, at work, at the mall, everywhere.  My worst nightmare was entering a public restroom and finding a line.  And yes, there were a couple catastrophic events involving long car rides and poorly spaced gas stations.

At first, I thought this was because I had been on steroids twice this spring–once in a failed attempt to break a several-week-long migraine cycle, and then for my second sinus infection of the season.  However, as spring stretched into summer my issues only got worse and my hopes that this would fix itself began to fade.

The vacation we had been looking forward to all year became a giant source of stress for me due to my bladder issues.  First the 12 hours in the car–miserable and frustrating for both hubby and myself–and then the time spent in unfamiliar territory which may or may not have easy to find bathroom facilities.  All I wanted was to enjoy our vacation, yet I was constantly worrying about my bathroom dilemma. 

I don’t know why it took me so long (to be honest, I do–I was embarrassed), but I finally decided it was time to do something about my bladder issues after we got home from vacation. 

To start with, I called my OB/GYN’s office, hoping that it might just be an ongoing mild bladder infection.  I didn’t really have any other symptoms, but this seemed like the most logical place to start.  My Dr’s office thought so, too, and had me come in to supply a urine sample.  However, when my urinalysis came back clean (“really beautiful pee” they told me!), they referred me to a urologist. 

OK, so I kinda flipped out a little about that.  Here I am, an otherwise healthy 27-year-old woman, and aren’t urologists just for, like, old men with prostate issues?!  I now know that’s not accurate, but I felt a little odd calling to make my appointment.  I felt even more uncomfortable when I walked into their waiting room and realized I was by far the youngest patient there.  And then I was pretty much mortified when my urologist walked into the exam room and introduced himself to me; I wasn’t expecting him to be relatively young and good-looking!

I learned a couple of important things at the urologist’s:

  • My bladder was completely emptying when I urinated.  (Thus, my urge to urinate, even immediately after leaving the bathroom, wasn’t due to there still being urine in my bladder.)
  • Since I don’t have a history of frequent bladder infections, cystitis (bladder inflammation) was pretty much ruled out.
  • Lack of additional neurological symptoms  ruled out a neurological cause.  (Those with MS and other neurological conditions often suffer from bladder issues.)  NOTE: I plan on touching on this with my neurologist at my next appointment.  I’ve read that there seems to be a link between overactive bladder and certain conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety, ADHD, and IBS.  Since migraines are also linked with several of these conditions, I’m curious if there is also a link between migraines and overactive bladder issues.
  • Since I wasn’t having leakage issues, weak pelvic floor muscles was ruled out as a possible component.
  • It’s often impossible to determine the cause of overactive bladder issues.
  • Caffeine, carbonated beverages, and acid foods/drinks can often increase overactive bladder symptoms.
  • Many younger women (and men) in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s experience bladder control issues.

So, I was diagnosed with an overactive bladder, which basically means that my bladder is getting its messages mixed up.  It’s telling my brain “Gotta go–now!” when my bladder isn’t actually full.  This message reaches the brain, which then tells the bladder muscle to contract.  (Basically, the bladder is one big, smooth muscle and when it contracts urine is forced out.) 

My urologist recommended trying an overactive bladder medication, Vesicare, for several months to “reset” my bladder-brain messages, then wean off the medication and hope the problem is solved.  I was disappointed that there weren’t really any other treatment options–besides watching my soda consumption, which I already do–but I’m a believer in ‘better living through chemistry’ when it’s necessary.  I’ve been taking the Vesicare for a month, and low and behold, things with my bladder are gradually getting better.  Since the Dr. said it usually takes a few months to see a marked improvement, I’m pretty happy.  Here’s to having the bladder of a camel in 6 months!

Perhaps my story will motivate other women who are dealing with bladder issues to seek assistance.  If I learned anything, it’s that I shouldn’t have waited so long to do something about it.

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