Women's Health

April 20, 2023

Overactive bladder and anxiety

Anxiety and psychological stress impact hypersensitivity mechanisms in women that could contribute to overactive bladder — a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control.

A common feature associated with an overactive bladder is elevated anxiety. While this link has been demonstrated in animal studies, no human studies have been conducted to evaluate the link between hypersensitivity symptoms in women with overactive bladder and anxiety.

W. Stuart Reynolds, MD, MPH, and colleagues assessed 120 women with overactive bladder for associations between anxiety and somatic (physical) symptoms, quality of life, quantitative sensory testing measures, and psychological stress symptoms.

They found that overactive bladder severity was not significantly different between those with and without anxiety, however, women with anxiety reported greater somatic symptoms, had greater temporal summation (indicating greater central sensitization) to heat pain, and reported psychological symptoms were worse with stress than women without anxiety.

This work, published in the journal Neurourology and Urodynamics, supports the hypothesis that anxiety can impact hypersensitivities in women that could contribute to overactive bladder.

Co-authors were Lindsey McKernan, PhD, MPH, Roger Dmochowski, MD, MMHC, and Stephen Bruehl, PhD. The study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DK103910, DK129624, DK128293, DK118118, and TR002243 and the SUFU Research Foundation.