For Overactive Bladders, the Wait is Over (for OTC Medication)

Put the control back in your go

relieved-lady-sunTurn on daytime television or flip through a women’s interest magazine and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be introduced to Merck & Co’s new over-the-counter (OTC) tool for treating overactive bladder (OAB): Oxytrol for Women. Focusing on the confidence gained when addressing and correcting one’s OAB symptoms, one Oxytrol advertisement states: it’s good to know, how to put the control back in your go.

I couldn’t agree more.

According to a recent study, two-thirds of women – 45 years and older – have never had a discussion with their doctor about their bladder health. For many, it’s just too embarrassing.

OAB is currently one of the top ten chronic conditions affecting more than 20 million American women

And can affect nearly every aspect of one’s quality of life – from interpersonal and sexual relationships to social and professional functions.

In fact, more than one in three women (37 percent) with OAB reported that the condition affects their relationship with their partner and nearly half said they are worried about having a urinary accident in public (55 percent) or in the car (48 percent).

For many women, OAB is accepted as part of “getting old.” But it shouldn’t be that way.

I am thrilled to see an OTC product that empowers women to proactively address their OAB symptoms, both physically and socially. At the University of Colorado my urogynecology team is open to exploring the use of the patch to address mild OAB symptoms or as a tool to compliment additional therapies.

What is the Oxytrol patch?

Oxybutynin, an anticholinergic medication, is used to treat OAB. Until recently, there was no over-the-counter anticholinergic option for women with OAB. That’s no longer the case.

By relaxing the muscles in the bladder, oxybutynin improves symptoms such as the inability to control urination (incontinence), feeling that one has to urinate (urgency) and having to go to the bathroom often (frequency).

This medication belongs to the class of drugs known as antispasmodics – used to suppress muscle spasms.

In November 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the switch of Oxytrol from prescription to over-the-counter. This is the first OTC treatment for overactive bladders in women ages 18 years and older.

Applied to the skin every four days, the patch delivers a consistent, low dose of oxybutynin. Some side effects have been reported such as mild skin irritation where the patch was applied, dry mouth and constipation.

This thin, flexible patch is positioned on the abdomen, hip or buttock every four days.

The Oxytrol patch can provide women OAB symptom relief within two weeks when combined with daily lifestyle changes. Behavioral modifications include following a fluid intake management, exercises to strengthen bladder muscles and developing a voiding schedule.

While the Oxytrol patch may not cure more severe OAB symptoms, it’s an exciting development in the fight against an often-avoided condition.

University of Colorado Urogynecology is a specialty women’s health practice focused on female pelvic health and surgery. Our physicians are also professors & researchers for the CU School of Medicine, one of the top-ranked medical schools in the nation.

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