Overactive bladder (OAB) and erectile dysfunction (ED) often occur together. They share some of the same causes and risk factors, and research suggests the two are linked.
The connection between OAB and ED is something experts have been researching for some time.
In 2008, a study found that like high blood pressure and diabetes, OAB could be a risk factor for ED. The same study also found that people with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) reported reduced sexual activity, enjoyment, and overall satisfaction because of their symptoms.
LUTS is a general term for symptoms affecting the lower urinary tract’s ability to store and empty urine, such as urinary hesitancy, urgency, frequency, nocturia, and dribbling.
A 2010 study also found that people with OAB reported a negative impact on their sex life. People living with wet OAB — the type that causes leakage — experienced a more profound impact on sex.
More recently, a
Both OAB and ED can be caused by treatments for certain conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlarged prostate not caused by cancer.
BPH is very
Prostate and bladder cancer are known OAB risk factors, and the surgeries used to treat these cancers can also cause ED.
Health conditions that affect the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease can also cause either. Diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by high blood sugar, can also cause OAB and ED.
Stress is another risk factor for both OAB and ED and vice versa. People living with OAB or ED often report feeling anxious or stressed because of their symptoms. Anxiety and stress can also worsen symptoms, creating a cyclical effect.
Older age and obesity are other known risk factors for OAB and ED.
OAB and ED can be treated with a combination of medication and lifestyle measures, some beneficial for both issues. For instance, pelvic floor exercises have been shown to help OAB and ED.
These lifestyle measures can also help with both conditions:
- managing weight
- trying to reduce stress and anxiety
- limiting or quitting smoking
- limiting alcohol consumption
- preventing constipation as it can affect the bladder and pelvic floor
Other treatments for OAB include:
- limiting or avoiding foods and beverages that stimulate the bladder, such as caffeinated drinks, items with artificial sweeteners, and acidic foods and drinks
- avoiding liquids for 2 hours before bed
- bladder training to reset your bladder to help you hold urine
- anticholinergic drugs, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan) and tolterodine (Detrol)
- Botox injections, if anticholinergic drugs don’t help
- nerve stimulation, including peripheral tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) and sacral nerve stimulation
- bladder surgery
Other treatments for ED include:
- treating other conditions that may be causing ED, such as high blood pressure
- therapy or counseling if emotional or mental health conditions are affecting your erections
- PDE-5 inhibitor drugs to increase blood flow to the penis, such as sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis)
- vacuum pumps, which are devices that draw blood into the penis
Urinary frequency or urgency after drinking a lot of liquids, especially alcohol or caffeinated drinks, isn’t unusual.
Neither is occasionally having trouble getting or keeping an erection, especially when you’re tired, stressed, or have had too much alcohol.
But if you experience symptoms of OAB or ED often or without an obvious trigger, it’s important to see a healthcare professional to find out why.
Does an overactive bladder cause erectile dysfunction?
An overactive bladder doesn’t cause ED, but the two often occur together. Research shows that having either OAB or ED increases the risk of the other.
What causes frequent urination and erectile dysfunction?
Frequent urination and ED have several potential causes and risk factors, some of which they share.
These include nerve damage from diabetes and certain neurological conditions, an enlarged prostate, and bladder and prostate cancer.
Can Viagra help with an overactive bladder?
Possibly. While more research is needed, studies suggest that PDE-5 inhibitors, including sildenafil (Viagra), may help LUTS.
How do you fix an overactive bladder?
It depends on what’s causing your symptoms. If another condition is at the root, treating it may resolve your symptoms.
OAB can also be fixed with lifestyle measures and bladder training to improve your ability to hold urine. Medication and sometimes surgery are other available options.
OAB and ED share a link, but researchers are still studying exactly how and why they’re connected. What we do know is that having one appears to make a person more likely to have the other.
A combination of lifestyle measures and therapies can help improve symptoms of both. A healthcare provider, such as a urologist, can help.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.