Bladder spasms cause you to suddenly feel like you need to run to the bathroom and empty your bladder. They occur when the muscles in your bladder contract rapidly.
Bladder spasms are common for people with conditions such as overactive bladder. They’re also common following a hysterectomy. Generally, bladder spasms after a hysterectomy happen in the immediate few weeks following a hysterectomy and then resolve on their own.
In this article, we take a closer look at symptoms, related bladder issues, and treatment options.
Often, the only symptom of a bladder spasm is suddenly feeling an urgent need to urinate. Other symptoms can occur and might include:
- leaking urine before you’re able to reach the bathroom
- needing to urinate 8 or more times in a day
- waking up 2 or more times during the night to urinate
- cramping, burning, or other uncomfortable sensation
What do bladder spasms feel like?
A bladder spasm happens when the muscles in your bladder suddenly squeeze. This sensation makes you feel like you need to empty your bladder, or urinate, immediately.
For some people, a bladder spasm feels the same as their standard need to urinate. The only difference is that it comes on suddenly and urgently. For others, a bladder spasm produces a painful cramping or burning sensation along with the urgent need to urinate.
Bladder spasms can occur as your body recovers after your hysterectomy. They can occur on their own or as part of the healing process.
Painful bladder syndrome
Painful bladder syndrome is the name for any pain in your bladder that isn’t caused by infection. It causes urinary symptoms such as the need to urinate frequently, pelvic pain, incontinence, and bladder spasms. There are several possible causes of painful bladder syndrome including hysterectomies or other surges to the pelvic area.
Urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common after a hysterectomy. Often, they occur in the first few days following a procedure because catheters are often inserted for hysterectomy procedures and for immediate recovery. Catheter use increases the risk of a UTI. Bladder spasms can be a symptom of a UTI. Other UTI symptoms include:
- a burning sensation when you urinate
- urinating only small amounts at a time
- pain in your pelvic region
- cloudy urine
- urine that is red or pink
- urine that has a strong odor
Rarely, a hysterectomy can result in an injury to your bladder. You might need to have an additional procedure to correct the damage to your bladder if this happens. Until your injury heals or is surgically corrected, you might have symptoms such as incontinence, pain, urinary retention, and bladder spasms.
There aren’t any known risk factors for bladder spasms following a hysterectomy. They’re a common complication that might occur after any hysterectomy.
Additionally, diabetes and other conditions that impact your immune system put you at a higher risk of developing a UTI after surgery. A higher risk of a UTI following your hysterectomy increases your overall risk of experiencing bladder spasms.
Bladder spasms will often stop on their own once your body recovers from your procedure. However, in some cases, treatments might be needed. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of your spasms and how well your overall recovery is going. Some possible treatments are discussed below.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises can help you strengthen the muscles in your pelvic region. This can help you control urination and bladder spasms. Your doctor will recommend the exact techniques and amount of pelvic floor exercises for you, but you can generally do these exercises at home on your own. You can read more about pelvic floor exercises in this guide.
Keeping a diary
A bladder diary will help you keep track of how much and how often you urinate. You’ll write down the times and amounts you drink and eat and how often you use the bathroom. You’ll note all bladder spasms and any episodes of incontinence. This can help you track if your spasms are lessening and getting better as you recover.
You might be advised to make some lifestyle changes during your hysterectomy recovery to help reduce your bladder spasms and any leakage or incontinence. These changes might include:
- cutting back on or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that can increase urinary urges
- scheduling trips to the bathroom every 2 to 4 hours
- trying to urinate twice each time you’re in the bathroom. (This technique is called double voiding and it can help you completely empty your bladder and relax your bladder muscles.)
Sometimes medications can help reduce or eliminate bladder spasms. Common medications you might take include:
- Antibiotics. You’ll be prescribed antibiotics if a UTI is causing your bladder spasms or is making them worse.
- Anticholinergics. This type of medication can help relax the muscles in your bladder.
- Topical estrogen. You might be prescribed estrogen in the form of a cream or patch to help strengthen your pelvic muscles.
Bladder spasms generally resolve on their own in the first few weeks after a hysterectomy. Many people can manage this at home with minimal discomfort. However, in some cases, you might need to see a doctor.
It’s a good idea to talk with a doctor if your bladder spasms:
- seem to be getting worse
- are painful
- cause a burning sensation
- last longer than a few weeks
You’ll likely need support even if you don’t experience bladder spasms or other complications following your hysterectomy. A hysterectomy can leave you with complicated emotions, fears for the future, questions about your health, and more. It can be incredibly helpful to talk with other people who’ve had hysterectomies and who are on the same recovery journey.
You can start by checking out:
- HysterSisters: This site offers an online support group with an active community that can provide information and peer support at every step of the hysterectomy process. You’ll also find a resource library of videos, articles, and more.
- Hysterectomy Support and Shared Experiences: This large Facebook group has been active since 2013 and can help you find support, community, local resources, and more.
Often, bladder spasms after a hysterectomy resolve on their own. You’ll likely have them less often and notice that they’re less intense as you continue to heal.
Talk with a doctor if your spasms don’t get better, or if they’re causing you significant discomfort. Your doctor might be able to recommend lifestyle changes, exercises, or medications that help reduce or eliminate your bladder spasms.