Home remedies for an overactive bladder (OAB) may include making changes to the diet, doing bladder control exercises, quitting smoking, and more. People may need to try a combination to help control OAB symptoms.

Doctors define OAB as a group of urinary symptoms, which may include a sudden, urgent need to urinate or a frequent need to urinate. People with OAB may also experience urine leaks.

Possible causes include underlying disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. Other times it can be linked to medications, surgery, or childbirth. However, for some people, there appears to be no underlying cause.

This article explores some natural remedies for OAB, its symptoms, and when to consider speaking with a doctor.

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American Urology Association guidelines recommend behavioral changes as the first-line treatment for OAB. For many people, a combination of these options is necessary to control symptoms.

Below are some natural remedies for OAB.

Dietary changes

A healthcare professional may first recommend a person with OAB makes some dietary changes. This may involve avoiding certain foods and drinks.

Foods and beverages that may cause or worsen the symptoms of OAB include:

As triggers from food vary from person to person, people may find it useful to keep a diary detailing food intake and bladder symptoms. A diary can help people work out which foods may be triggering OAB symptoms.

Bladder control techniques

Retraining the bladder is often recommended to reduce bladder leaking. There are several ways to do this:

Scheduled urination

A person with OAB can keep a diary of urinary habits, including bathroom trips, leakage, and symptoms of urgency. Based on the patterns noticed from the diary, they can begin to schedule trips by adding on 15 minutes to the usual urination times.

For example, if urination takes place every 60 minutes, they should schedule bathroom breaks for every 75 minutes.

It is important to use the bathroom at the scheduled times, regardless of whether urination is needed. The person can then gradually increase the length of time between bathroom visits.

Delayed urination

Each time the urge to urinate occurs, the person should try to delay urination for 5 minutes if possible. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may help.

People should gradually increase the holding time until there are 2–3 hour gaps between bathroom visits.

Double-void technique

This technique is helpful for those who feel like their bladder does not empty fully. It is also a good idea to double-void before bedtime.

Anyone wishing to double-void should follow these steps:

  1. sit on the toilet, leaning slightly forward
  2. rest the hands on the knees or thighs
  3. urinate as usual
  4. remain on the toilet and wait 30 seconds
  5. lean slightly further forward and urinate once more

Kegel contractions

Kegel contractions involve strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, which are used to control urinary flow.

To discover the location of the pelvic floor muscles, a person can try to stop urinating midstream. If successful, this means a person has located the correct muscles.

A person should practice squeezing these muscles for 10 seconds, and then relax for 3 seconds. This pattern should be repeated 10 times. A person should try to do three sets of 10 repetitions daily. Deep breathing techniques may make this process easier.

Lifestyle changes

There is a wide range of lifestyle changes that people can make to improve OAB symptoms. These include:

Quitting smoking

Smoking may make symptoms of OAB worse. Coughing fits that occur in some smokers may also increase episodes of leaking.

Therefore, anyone with OAB who smokes should consider quitting. A doctor can provide advice and support for people who want to quit smoking.

Discussing medications with a doctor

Certain medications may lead to bladder leaking. People with OAB who are taking the following medications should discuss the possibility of alternatives with a doctor:

Maintaining a healthy weight

Excess weight can put pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles. Staying within a healthy weight range may help with bladder control.

People should speak with a healthcare professional about how to lose weight safely.

Managing medical conditions

It is important for people to manage the symptoms of chronic conditions that may contribute to OAB. These may include:

Herbs and supplements

Some people may wish to try herbs and supplements for OAB, although the research on their efficacy and safety is limited:

  • Gosha-jinki-gan: Older research from 2015, suggests that this blend of 10 traditional Chinese herbs may help with nocturia that does not respond to certain medications.
  • Ganoderma lucidum: This herbal extract from East Asia was shown in one older 2008 study on men with urinary tract issues to improve symptoms.
  • Capsaicin: This natural remedy comes from chili peppers. Older research from 2003 recommends it as an efficient and inexpensive treatment for overactive and highly sensitive bladders.
  • Pumpkin seed extract: An older 2014 study suggests this may be beneficial for both nocturia and OAB.
  • Magnesium hydroxide: In an older 2005 study, 55% of the 20 female participants reported that this supplement helped improve symptoms of and nocturia.
  • Vitamin D: An older 2010 study found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a lower risk of pelvic floor disorders, such as bladder leaking, in women. Another 2016 study suggested there may be a link between low vitamin D levels and episodes of bladder leaking in older adults.

A person should always speak with their doctor before taking any herbs or supplements as they may cause side effects or interact with medications.

Alternative therapies

Although research is limited, the following complementary or alternative treatments may help with OAB.

A 2022 study suggests that acupuncture may help reduce OAB symptoms, particularly in combination with drug therapy. However, the authors note that further research is necessary.

Biofeedback uses electrical sensors to monitor muscles. Doctors may recommend this therapy to treat bladder leaking. Research from 2016 suggests it is a beneficial first-line treatment for children.

The symptoms of OAB vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Urgency: A strong and sudden need to urinate with an inability to delay it. This is a defining symptom of OAB.
  • Frequency: People with OAB tend to urinate more than 8 times daily, and two or more times at night.
  • Incontinence: This describes the involuntary loss of bladder control, leading to leakage.

OAB does not tend to affect lifespan, but it can impact quality of life. The condition may affect work, relationships, and sleep. Treating symptoms early is advisable to successfully manage, or even cure, the condition.

People who experience changes in their urine or urination habits should consult a doctor. Urinary urgency and frequency are associated with other medical conditions, including urinary tract infections. Therefore, a proper diagnosis is important to inform treatment plans.

A person should speak with a doctor before trying alternative remedies for OAB.

If first-line treatments do not help symptoms to improve, doctors may then suggest second-line treatments. These can include medication.

If this is unsuccessful, doctors may recommend third-line treatment in the form of neuromodulation, a method of altering nerve activity, or surgery.

Home remedies for OAB may include dietary changes, bladder control exercises, and lifestyle changes. People with OAB may need to try a combination of different techniques to help improve their symptoms.

A person should speak with a doctor for advice about which treatments may work best for them. They should also discuss any changes in their urine or urination habits with a healthcare professional.