Approved new use

Botox isn’t just for wrinkles anymore. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the use of Botox to include the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB).

Overactive bladder isn’t a disease, but rather a group of symptoms related to the function of your bladder. If you aren’t sure whether you have OAB, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I often experience an urgent need to urinate right away?
  • Do I need to urinate at least eight times during the day, or more than twice at night?
  • Do I frequently leak urine?

If you answer yes to at least two of these questions, then you may have OAB.

To manage OAB, your doctor may recommend different types of treatments that work by calming the nerves and muscles around your bladder. These treatments typically come in the form of drugs that you can take as tablets, patches, or liquids.

Botox is approved in people for whom anticholinergic drugs didn’t work. Botox works by calming the nerves that usually overstimulate your bladder muscles and lead to an urgent feeling of needing to urinate.

Your doctor will usually give you the Botox injection in their office. The injection doesn’t take long.

Your doctor injects the Botox into your bladder muscle. After, you will have to wait in their office for at least 30 minutes. You will also have to wait until you urinate. This waiting period allows your doctor to make sure you tolerate the Botox and that there were no problems with the injection. Most people tolerate the injection well.

The effects of a Botox injection can last for up to eight months. After that, your doctor will let you know if you need another injection. There is no limit to how long you can use Botox therapy for OAB. However, the FDA recommends that treatments be at least 12 weeks apart.

Botox takes time to work effectively. Still, most people will notice some relief of their OAB symptoms within two weeks of their first Botox injection.

A 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEMJ) found that Botox worked just as well as anticholinergic tablets in treating urinary incontinence. In fact, Botox appears to work slightly better.

The study found that after just one month, a higher percentage of women taking Botox injections reported that their symptoms of urinary incontinence were controlled. These effects stayed true a year later, as well.

While research showed that Botox helped manage symptoms of OAB, it did have side effects. The NEJM study found that women who used Botox injections had a higher number of urinary tract infections compared to women who used anticholinergic pills. The pills, however, were more likely than Botox to cause dry mouth.

With the approval of Botox to treat OAB, people now have another option for relief. This can be particularly helpful to people who haven’t had success with other types of OAB treatments. Check with your doctor to find out if Botox could be a good option for you.