Products To Help Manage Your Overactive Bladder

Bladder Control Products

One of the most frustrating and embarrassing things about Overactive Bladder (OAB)– that urgent, frequent need to use the bathroom –is the potential of leaks. Not everyone with OAB experiences leaks, but when they do happen, they can be awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least. That’s why that it’s important to find a product that can help protect you in these instances. And for many people, adult absorbent products are a first line of defense. 

If you’ve never wandered down the aisle of a grocery store looking for the perfect adult absorbent, you’re in for a surprise. The category is vast and it can be confusing to find the product that work best for you. So how do you find the right one? Three words: form, fit and function.


The first thing to think about is form. There are many different styles to accommodate different lifestyle so think about what’s important to you. Are you a very active person or are you less mobile? Do you prefer pull-ups or tab closures? Are you looking for something to help control odor? There are so many features to choose from so take the time to think about what you need and want in a product. 


Once you’ve determined the product features you’re after, be sure to consider the fit of a product. A product that’s too small, or too big, won’t contain leaks.  Be sure to take your measurements and follow the manufacturers sizing recommendations. If you’re still having trouble, an online retailer can be a huge help. They often have product specialists that you can call for free consultation. Based on your needs and size, they can usually recommend a product that will work well for you.


Finally, consider how you’re going to use the product. Do you tend to leak more during the day or at night? Do you leak a lot, or just a little? Are you looking for something that you can reuse, or that you can toss when you’re done with it.  Think about how you’re using the product and use that to help you choose a product.

Need some help finding the perfect product? Try our new product finder tool! 

Using Intermittent Catheterization To Manage OAB

Catheters are not for everyone, but may be an option for some people with overactive bladder. Catheters work by inserting a tube through the urethra into the bladder. Your urine is then drained from your bladder. When performing intermittent catheterization, the tube is removed once your bladder has been drained, until the next time you need it. 

Intermittent catheterization may seem complicated and scary to some people at first, but the benefits to it may be worth it.  The process completely drains your bladder, so there’s less of a risk of leaking or getting a bladder or kidney infection. You also have less risk of a distended bladder due to storing excess urine for too long in the bladder.  

Intermittent Catheterization is a good option for those who have sever bladder conditions that may lead to kidney infections or are unable to completely empty their bladder. Talk to your doctor about this option to see if you might be a good candidate for intermittent catheterization.

Want to learn more about finding the right absorbent product, or intermittent catheterization? Watch the 3rd video in our OAB series, Using Products To Manage Your Overactive Bladder.

Watch NAFC's Videos For Tips On Self-Catheterization

Being told that you have to use a catheter can be scary, but many people use a catheter to empty their bladders on both a temporary and a long-term basis. And while you might recoil from the idea at first, once you get the hang of using one and see the benefits it can bring, it you may wonder how you were ever able to get by without it.

With a little practice, using a catheter can become second nature to you.

Here are our best tips for using a urinary catheter.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor lots of questions. Catheters should be prescribed by your doctor and proper instruction should be given to you by your healthcare provider. If you are unsure of the process, speak up.
  • Be sure to keep the catheter and catheter site clean to avoid infections (UTIs are common with those using a catheter). Wash at least twice per day.
  • Use lubrication when inserting the catheter to reduce pain, discomfort, and friction – all of which may also help reduce infection.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly prior to and after emptying the urine bag.
  • Be careful of tugging on the tubing, twisting, it, or stepping on the tubing when you are walking. It may be helpful for you to clip the tubing to your clothing to avoid this.
  • Always keep the urine bag below your bladder (below your waste) to prevent urine from flowing back into your bladder and causing an infection.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to help keep your urine flowing well.
  • Stock up on spare catheter equipment for emergencies.
  • Call your doctor if you experience any of the following
    • Trouble inserting or cleaning your catheter
    • Urine leakage between catheterizations
    • You notice any type of smell
    • Blood in the urine
    • Skin rash
    • Pain or burning in the urethra, bladder, or lower back
    • Swelling, draining, or redness in your urethra.
    • Any sign of a urinary tract infection, such as a burning sensation, a need to urinate often, a fever, or chills.

Learning how to use a catheter doesn’t have to be daunting.

Watch NAFC’s videos on how to self-catheterize for both men and women here.

Self-Catheterization for Women:

Self Catheterization for Men:

When The “Going Problem” Becomes A Growing Problem

urinary incontinence in men

Concluding his 3-part series on urinary incontinence in men suffering with benign prostatic hyperplasia, Dr. Richard Roach, of Advanced Urology in Oxford, FL, shares the story of a patient who found an alternative to chronic urinary catheter use.  

In my first two posts on the BHEALTH blog, I outlined the link between urinary retention and incontinence in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) while highlighting some of the challenges of using indwelling catheters to treat BPH-related symptoms. For many individuals, there are significant drawbacks to long-term catheterization, among them a significantly heightened risk of infection and a variety of lifestyle restrictions. In this, my final post on BPH-related incontinence symptoms, I would like to share a story of one of my patients, and detail how an innovative treatment option transformed his life and ended his reliance on urinary catheters.  

Ray is a 65-year-old man who lives in The Villages, Florida. He was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate when he began experiencing severe BPH symptoms in October 2014. Like many men, he was placed on a Foley catheter, which drained his bladder but also led to discomfort, pain and self-consciousness. For more than six months, continuous use of the Foley catheter severely impacted even the most basic of Ray’s daily activities, and soon a series of urinary tract infections (UTI) led to frequent hospital stays. It was during one of his hospital visits that I was called to treat a UTI.

Ray had a very different future in mind before catheterization interrupted his life. He never envisioned himself spending the rest his days using a catheter; just six months earlier he was an avid golfer with a thriving social life and in relatively good health. Now he was weak, self-conscious about his leg bag and battling one infection after the other. 

During our first meeting he explained that much of his day revolved around catheter care. Ray explained that he was looking for a solution that worked with his lifestyle, not against it. Ray believed he was out of options, but he shared that he wanted just three things:

1.    Restore his continence and ability to naturally urinate

2.    End the recurring urinary tract infections

3.    Resume the daily activities he cherished most

And in Ray’s case, there was a solution. Several weeks after I first examined Ray, we inserted a temporary prostate stent to keep his urethra open and maintain urine flow. Prostatic stents are not yet widely adopted, but I have used them in my practice with great success. Like many patients using a temporary prostate stent with similar physical conditions, Ray immediately saw the benefits: he was able to fill and empty his bladder naturally, he had no more concerns about catheter maintenance, and he resumed nearly all of the daily activities that he couldn’t perform during his period of chronic catheterization. 

“Using the catheter was just not a nice way to live,” Ray told me. “With the stent in place, I felt normal again. Quite simply, I was able to resume my life. I felt healthier physically and mentally, just extremely fortunate to have found an option like the stent to replace the catheter and lead to a more permanent solution to my health problem. The stent saved me from using the Foley for the rest of my life.”

Ray’s case isn’t unique. Men all over the world struggle with incontinence due to BPH and other BPH symptoms. While some patients are not candidates for removal of the catheter, urologists have a wide variety of prostate treatment options. Every chronically catheterized patient should have a discussion with his urologist to understand if a catheter-free lifestyle is possible. 

As we close this series, I encourage all men suffering from symptoms of BPH (incontinence or otherwise) to bear in mind the importance of open dialogue and awareness of alternatives. Find out what treatment options are available to you; ask the right questions and be an informed healthcare consumer. It could make all the difference in the world. 

Best of health, and thanks for reading!


The Hidden (And Not-So-Hidden) Dangers Of Treating Incontinence With Urinary Catheters

Treating incontinence with catheters

Treating incontinence with catheters

This is the second in a 3-part series on urinary incontinence in men suffering with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Dr. Richard Roach, of Advanced Urology in Oxford, FL, discusses the challenges of using urinary catheters to treat men with BPH-related incontinence, and the drawbacks of long-term catheterization.  

In my last BHEALTH blog post, we touched on the peculiar, yet common link between BPH and incontinence. Among other topics, we reviewed the progression of BPH disease state, to the point that symptoms begin to manifest themselves through urge and stress incontinence. Likewise, we also discussed the role that urinary catheters play in men who are not good candidates for BPH therapies.

So let’s now take a closer look at this population of men who must rely on urinary catheters to manage BPH-related incontinence symptoms, and examine the shortcomings of long-term catheter use:

Losing the ability to void naturally 

The first (and most obvious) drawback of chronic catheter use is losing the ability to urinate at-will. Of course, managing supplies and components can be a hassle, but there are also health concerns associated with preventing your bladder to fill and empty on its own. Chronic catheterization, particularly with an indwelling catheter, can increase the risk for deterioration in overall bladder health, which can lead to a permanent inability to store and drain urine naturally, or even cancer.

Heightened infection risk 

Perhaps the most immediate health concern with chronic catheter use is the heightened risk of infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 500,000 patients each year in the U.S. develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) while in the hospital, and indwelling urinary catheters (commonly known as Foley catheters, which reside inside the bladder for either a short or long period of time) are the leading cause. And the CDC numbers only count UTIs acquired while in the hospital; many others develop infections from long-term indwelling catheter use at home.

Compromises to quality of life 

The last, but no less important, drawback of chronic catheter use is the impact on quality of life. Many men are simply unable to perform day-to-day activities inside and outside the home. The embarrassment or inconvenience of a drainage bag is a commonly lamented life-limiter, and some types of catheterization restrict a man’s ability to be sexually active, which can strain relationships.

These challenges represent the key reasons that healthcare professionals around the world are seeking alternatives to long-term catheter use. And though it’s not always feasible to have a catheter removed, it’s important to point out that there are alternatives to long-term catheterization.

The final post in this series will highlight the story of one such patient who stopped using a catheter after several challenge-fraught years, and gained back his ability to urinate when he wanted to – without components or supplies, without infections and (most importantly for him) without any significant compromises to his everyday life.

Read part 3 of this series here.

Dr. Richard Roach attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital and Clinics. After graduation, Dr. Roach moved to Minocqua, Wisconsin and joined the Marshfield Clinic, where he practiced for the next 26 years. In 2013, he moved to Florida and is currently a partner in Advanced Urology Institute. He is certified by the American Board of Urology. His specialties include plasma vaporization for BPH, treatment of female stress incontinence and penile prosthesis for ED. He is also an expert in laser & laparoscopic surgery.
Dr. Richard Roach attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital and Clinics. After graduation, Dr. Roach moved to Minocqua, Wisconsin and joined the Marshfield Clinic, where he practiced for the next 26 years. In 2013, he moved to Florida and is currently a partner in Advanced Urology Institute. He is certified by the American Board of Urology. His specialties include plasma vaporization for BPH, treatment of female stress incontinence and penile prosthesis for ED. He is also an expert in laser & laparoscopic surgery.