How does the bladder work?

The bladder is like a reservoir that gets filled with urine produced by the kidneys. When the bladder becomes full, a signal is sent to the brain, and we feel the urge to urinate. The bladder is therefore controlled by the brain.

There are receptors in the bladder wall that send signals to the brain when action is needed. The brain then sends a message to the bladder muscle, instructing it to either expand (to store urine) or contract (to empty the urine).

Human figure bladder illustration

What is Overactive Bladder?

Overactive Bladder (OAB), also known as hyperactive bladder, is a clinical syndrome characterized by involuntary muscle contractions of the bladder that cause a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate in some individuals. This bladder dysfunction can occur at any time during the day.

Overactive bladder icon


Overactive bladder is defined by the presence of urinary urgency, usually associated with one or more of the following symptoms (in the absence of urinary tract infection or other disease):

Urgency icon

You may have a sudden or irresistible urge to urinate, associated with an inability to hold urine or regulate it.


Incontinence icon
Urgency incontinence

You feel an urgent need to urinate and you experience leakage episodes or difficulty retaining before reaching the toilet.


Frequency icon

You experience the need to urinate so frequently that it becomes a major burden on your life (generally 8 or more times a day).


Nocturia icon

You get up more than once a night to urinate.

A frequent and disabling condition

OAB affects approximately

Female statistics OAB
Male statistics OAB


Although its prevalence increases with age1urinary incontinence is not confined to the elderly. It affects both men and women.
Experienced as a real handicap, it puts patients in real distress, considerably altering their quality of life2.


Over 65% of men and 67% of women1 suffering from OAB feel that their condition has a significant negative impact on their quality of life.
In addition to the physical repercussions, untreated urinary incontinence has significant psychological consequences, affecting all aspects of patients' social, emotional and professional lives2. It can quickly lead to isolation.


  • Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how they affect your daily life.
    Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms.
  • Don’t forget that incontinence is treatable, you don’t have to face it alone.
  • Explore the following sections to find out more about overactive bladder and existing solutions.
A medical professional sits with their patient, in their office to discuss test results



Milsom I et al. “How widespread are the symptoms of an overactive bladder and how are they managed? “ A population-based prevalence study. BJU Int. 2 001 Jun; 87(9):760-6.


Kinsey, D., Pretorius, S., Glover, L. & Alexander, T. The psychological impact of overactive bladder: a systematic review. J. Health Psychol. 21, 69–81 (2016).

The information presented on this website is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace a consultation with a healthcare professional.