If you think you may have overactive bladder (OAB) and you've decided to talk to your doctor about what treatment is available to you, you've already taken an important step in improving your symptoms. But here are 3 easy steps to help you make sure you get the most from your treatment.

1. Work with your health care team.

You are an important member of your health care team!

Your doctor can help you find a treatment that's right for you. Your doctor can also answer any questions or concerns you may have about your treatment, and can direct you to other health professionals who can help, including nurse continence advisors (NCAs) and pharmacists.

A nurse continence advisor (NCA) is a nurse who is specially trained to assess and manage bladder problems such as overactive bladder. Your NCA can assess your bladder symptoms and suggest exercises, devices, and lifestyle changes to help you deal with them. The NCA can also evaluate how well these treatments are working and whether you should be referred to a specialist. Some medical devices may be covered by public (government) or private health insurance plans - it's worth looking into.

Your pharmacist is there to help you learn about your medication and how to use it. Your pharmacist can also provide you with information on insurance coverage for your medication. You can also see "Overactive bladder treatment coverage" to learn more about overactive bladder medications and health insurance.

2. Know what to expect from your treatment.

Talk to your doctor, nurse, and pharmacist about what to expect from your treatment. It's important to remember that:

  • Results will not be immediate once you start your treatment. When done diligently, the benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises are usually seen in a few months. Experts agree that most medications used to treat overactive bladder should be tried for at least 2 to 4 weeks before deciding on their effectiveness, and several weeks of treatment may be needed to see the full effects.
  • Sometimes, people with overactive bladder have developed coping strategies, such as limiting activities, limiting fluid intake, or wearing absorbent pads, that become a part of life and are difficult to change. You may find yourself using these kinds of coping strategies even after your symptoms have decreased, which could prevent you from noticing the effectiveness of your treatment. Talk to your doctor about when you can expect to see an improvement in your symptoms.
  • Though your symptoms may never completely go away (there's no "cure" for overactive bladder), significant improvement is a reasonable goal. Appropriate treatment can greatly improve your symptoms. To help you evaluate your treatment, think about how much a certain symptom bothers you at the start of treatment, and then see how much it bothers you after several weeks of treatment. Your doctor may also recommend that you keep a bladder diary to record how many times you go to the bathroom each day and factors (such as lifestyle issues) that could affect your progress. Talk to your doctor about the best way to keep track of your symptoms.

3. Stick with it!

For overactive bladder treatments to work, you have to stick with them.

Don't stop lifestyle interventions or medication without speaking with your doctor first, even if you think they're not working. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your treatment. Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you get ready for talking with your doctor.