Overactive Bladder (OAB) is a very common problem that is thought to affect about three million people in the UK. The main symptoms include: an urgent need to go to the toilet; more frequent visits to the toilet; and embarrassing leaking or wetting incidents, also known as urinary incontinence.

Anyone can experience OAB, although it is more common in older people. The condition affects more women than men, and it is thought to occur in one in five women who are over 40 years of age.

How the bladder works

The bladder is a stretchy muscular bag that collects and stores urine. The bladder is constantly receiving urine from the kidneys, which filter it down to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The urine is held in the bladder by the pelvic floor muscles, which keep the urinary opening (urethra) closed. Once the bladder is full, a signal is sent to the brain that triggers the need to pass urine. At a suitable time, the brain tells the pelvic floor muscles to relax and the bladder contracts to push the urine out. However, this process can be interrupted in several different ways, resulting in urinary incontinence.

Types of urinary incontinence

There are various types of urinary incontinence, but the two main types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

  • Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are too weak to prevent urination.
  • Urge incontinence is thought to occur as a result of incorrect signals being sent between the brain and the bladder.

These two types of urinary incontinence are thought to be responsible for up to 90% of all cases of the condition. It is also possible to have a mixture of both stress and urge urinary incontinence.


Overactive bladder and urinary incontinence can be an uncomfortable and upsetting problem. Many people think that it is an inevitable part of ageing, but there are several forms of treatment, including medication, exercises and electrical therapy, that can help ease the symptoms.
PharmacyDirectGB can help you overcome your symptoms with our Incontinence Treatment Service. We provide an online consultation and private prescription service, followed by appropriate medication if suitable to treat the problem.