The first over-the-counter treatment for overactive bladder was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in women Friday, Jan. 25. It is still only available by prescription for men.
The drug, called Oxytrol, contains a medicine called oxybutynin (a anticholinergic) that works by relaxing the bladder muscle. It is a patch that the user puts on the skin every four days.
The safety of Oxytrol was tested on more than 5,000 people across nine studies, and side effects included dry mouth, constipation, and skin irritation around the area of the patch.
When a healthy person needs to urinate, nerve signals tell the brain that the bladder is filling. This leads to relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic floor and the urethra, which then causes the bladder muscles to contract -- leading to urination. When someone has an overactive bladder, though, the bladder muscles contract involuntarily, which makes a person feel like he or she needs to urinate, according to the Mayo Clinic.
This can then lead to frequently needing to urinate, sudden urges to urinate, and incontinence, which is leaking of urine, the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia reported.
Risk of overactive bladder goes up as people age, though it's not considered normal with aging, the Mayo Clinic reported. It can also be associated with diseases or conditions such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and enlarged prostate.
There are a number of treatment options available for people with overactive bladder, including behavioral interventions (like doing kegel exercises), undergoing surgery, and taking medications, the Mayo Clinic reported.
For more information on the new treatment, click over to the FDA's release.