Overactive bladder syndrome

What is the bladder?

The bladder is the organ which stores urine produced by the kidneys. It is a muscle in the shape of a bag which can hold around 400 millilitres of urine (Fig. 1a and b).

Most people become aware their bladder is filling when it is half full. In order to empty the bladder, you have to be able to relax. This usually means being in a socially convenient environment, such as a toilet or a private space. The brain will then send a signal to the bladder to start squeezing out the urine.

How often you urinate depends on many factors, but one in particular is how much you drink. Most people urinate less than 8 times during the day, and either not at all or once during the night.

Fig. 1a: The male lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1a: The male lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1b: The female lower urinary tract.
Fig. 1b: The female lower urinary tract.

What are overactive bladder symptoms?

Overactive bladder symptoms (OAB) are common and can affect both men and women. Between 10 and 20% of people suffer from it at some stage in their lives.

OAB symptoms are a set of urinary storage symptoms. Storage symptoms

  • The sudden need to urinate and having trouble postponing it
  • Any involuntary loss of urine
  • The need to urinate more often than usual
  • The need to wake up at night to urinate.

This information was produced by the European Association of Urology (EAU).

  • Prof. Christopher Chapple, Sheffield (UK)
  • Prof. Stavros Gravas, Larissa (GR)
  • Dr. Nadir Osman, Sheffield (UK)

This information was updated by the EAU Patient Information Working Group, March 2018.

The content is in line with the EAU Guidelines on Overactive Bladder 2017.

  • Dr. Jan-Peter Jessen, Sindelfingen (DE)
  • Dr. Marta Sochaj, Warsaw (PL)