Over 20 million women worldwide suffer from overactive bladder, a condition characterized by sudden and frequent urges to urinate.
Kathy Hazzard, an entertainer and real estate agent in her 60s, began noticing symptoms of overactive bladder about three years ago. Her frequent urges started to control her life, making her daily activities such as auditions, performances, and real estate showings difficult to manage.
"You never know when you have to go,” Hazzard, who resides in Pennsylvania and New York City, said. “You know, the urgency and the frequency, the urgency and the frequency...it really controls your life."
Overactive bladder is one of the top 10 chronic conditions affecting perimenopausal women, according to Dr. Eman Elkadry, the fellowship director of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Mount Auburn Hospital. Elkadry is a leading advocate for increasing access to overactive bladder treatment among women.
"Women tend not to talk about it,” Elkadry said. “They're embarrassed about it, many think it's a normal part of aging , they don't bring it up to their doctor for several years sometimes. And so there's a huge window of time when women are actually having symptoms and quality of life disruptions where they're not seeking treatment."
For women who suffer from symptoms of overactive bladder such as urgency, frequency, and leaking, treatment options include pelvic muscle exercises, bladder management techniques, prescription medications and a newly available over-the-counter patch called Oxytrol for Women.
The patch, which can be worn on the hips, butt or abdomen, needs to be changed every four days. Oxytrol for Women, not to be confused with the prescription patch, Oxytrol, is available over-the-counter for about one dollar a day.
Hazzard said she saw immediate results after using Oxytrol for Women, experiencing a decrease in frequency and urges. While it is important that new users read directions carefully and check with their doctor before use, the patch has given women like Hazzard an effective treatment option for overactive bladder.
"What changed for me is that you have your life back,” Hazzard said. “You have the flexibility, you have the freedom now."