Can men get overactive bladder? How is it different from prostate issues?

Man with overactive bladder (OAB)

By Board Certified Urologist, Dr. Yana Barbalat

Yes, both men and women can have overactive bladder. There are many causes of overactive bladder in men, which makes this a confusing topic not just for patients, but even for physicians!

First, lets define overactive bladder (OAB). OAB is a group of urinary symptoms, not a disease, in of itself. The most common symptoms include sudden urgency to urinate, leaking of urine with sudden uncontrolled urgency, frequency of urination, and waking up more than one time per night to urinate. People who have OAB often feel that their bladder is in control of their lives.

What can cause OAB in men?

  1. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, previous history of stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and dementia
  1. Other medical conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, previous pelvic surgery, and diuretic use
  1. Intake of bladder irritants- soda, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods can all irritate the bladder which can lead to OAB
  1. Current or recent bladder infection or infection of the prostate
  1. Long standing blockage of the urethra and urine flow.
This is where the prostate comes in. Many men develop OAB because their prostates are enlarged. The prostate gland is present in all men and surrounds the urethra under the bladder.  As men age, the prostate grows and takes up space in the urethra, which creates less space in the urethral and makes it more difficult for urine to flow. This is like a clogged pipe. The bladder now works hard to force the urine through the blocked urethral channel and out of the body. Overtime, physiologic changes occur in the bladder wall and its lining which makes the bladder overactive, leading to urgency, frequency, and leakage of urine.
  1. Many people have overactive bladder without any obvious cause. They do not have any known medical issues or prostate enlargement. It is very possible that some people’s bladder wall and/or lining has receptors that are more sensitive to urine, than others. Hormones, small chemicals, unknown bacteria and virus, and nerves may be involved in the development of OAB in men and women. There is still a lot to learn about the causes of overactive bladder in men and women and research is under way.

In conclusion, men suffer from overactive bladder, just as women do. There are many causes of OAB and through research, we are learning more and more about how our bladder functions. Many therapies have become available in the past decade. Options for managing OAB include lifestyle changes, over the counter and herbal remedies, prescription drugs, minor procedures, and even surgery. Stay tuned for my future posts to learn more about overactive bladder.


1 comment

  • Humberto

    Muy interesante información.


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