Is your urge to pee trumping your urge for sex? Here’s what to do about it.
Things are heating up in the bedroom, and you and your partner are about to get intimate … until, of course, your bladder has a different plan, and the urge to pee starts tugging on you like a whiny toddler.
“Over the course of a lifetime most women will have some issue with urgency and/or incontinence during sexual activity,” says Lauri Romanzi, MD, a urogynecologist in New York City. “What’s less common is to have that symptom all the time during sexual activity.”
How Overactive Bladder Can Affect Your Sex Life
Urgency, the need to go to the bathroom suddenly, is the root symptom of overactive bladder. If you have overactive bladder, you know all too well that this means a sudden urge to pee can pop up at the most inconvenient times—like during a broadway show, a work presentation, or, yep, sex. Plus, sexual activity, especially for women, can directly press on the bladder, which can also trigger the urge to urinate, says Dr. Romanzi.
Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t physical. “With overactive bladder you’re always worried that you’re going to have to interrupt what you’re doing—even if you do pre-void,” says Dr. Romanzi. Anticipating that you may have the urge to pee during sex is not only a mood killer in that moment, but it can affect your desire for sex as a whole.“It can have an impact on libido. It makes [patients] anxious and embarrassed. It’s a problem,” she says.
One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine conducted a series of focus groups to assess the sexual health of women with OAB. Both continent and incontinent women reported difficulty achieving orgasm due to fear of leaking or anxiety related to sexual intercourse. Approximately one-third of the women said they wouldn't bring up their sexual issue with their doctor, but all women expressed concern about the impact of OAB on their sex life.
How to Improve Your Sex Life with Overactive Bladder
To ease your OAB anxiety during sex, give these tips a try.
- Empty your bladder before having sex. You can even try “double voiding” which is going to the bathroom, waiting a few minutes, and then going again to make sure it’s all gone. Trying these lifestyle changes for OAB may help too.
- Experiment with different positions. A new position may help put less pressure on your bladder.
- Work your Kegels regularly. Regular pelvic floor exercises have been shown to help man and women OAB and incontinence. An added bonus? Studies have shown that by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles you may improve your ability to orgasm and find sex more satisfying. Here’s how to do a Kegel exercise.
- Talk about it. While it may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, talking to your partner about your concerns may relieve some of your OAB anxieties.
If overactive bladder is affecting your sex life on a regular basis, it’s important to talk to your doctor. “The earlier you come in for treatment, the more likely you are to have a complete response or more robust response in every aspect of your life that the overactive bladder is impacting,” says Dr. Romanzi. And that includes feeling OAB symptoms during sex. “The urgency during sexual activity will reduce when the therapy for overactive bladder is successful.”
Dr. Romanzi is a urogynecologist and reconstructive pelvic surgeon based in New York City.
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Over the course of a lifetime
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most women will have some issue with urgency,
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and or incontinence during sexual activity.
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What's less common is to have that symptom
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all the time during sexual activity.
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Sexual activity for women especially
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does directly compress on the bladder.
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And for men it does directly compress on the prostate.
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But is can trigger the bladder or the urinary tract
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to demonstrate its hyper-sensitivity
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and then you're having symptoms during sexual activity.
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Some women report or come in worried about the feeling
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of urgency during sexual activity.
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One strategy can be to urinate before
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you start sexual activity.
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With over-active bladder, you're always worried
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that you're going to have to interrupt
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what you're doing even if you do pre-void
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and so it can have an impact on libido.
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It makes them anxious and embarrassed, it's a problem.
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If overactive bladder is also effecting your sex life
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and this is not at all uncommon,
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the earlier you come in for treatment
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the more likely you are to have
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a complete response or robust response
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in ever aspect of your life that the over active
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bladder is impacting.
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Usually if it's part of over active bladder,
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the urgency during sexual activity
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will reduce when the therapy for over active bladder
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Overactive bladder and women's sexual health: what is the impact? Bethesda, MD. United BioSource Corporation, Center for Health Outcomes Research, 2007. (Accessed on April 6, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17498103)Tips to Keep Incontinence From Interfering with Your Sex Life. Charleston, SC. National Association for Continence. (Accessed on April 6, 2021 at https://www.nafc.org/bhealth-blog/tips-to-keep-incontinence-from-interfering-with-your-sex-life?rq=sex)