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Double Trouble

Double Trouble

As IBS sufferers, we talk about going #2 a lot (or not being able to go #2), but what about #1? Do you have IBS and also have an overactive bladder? You are not alone! Having an overactive bladder is actually also called irritable bladder!

Irritable overlap

Bowel and bladder problems overlap. Research has shown that urinary troubles may be experienced by as many as 50 percent of people who have IBS. Those troubles can include overactive bladder (OAB), incomplete emptying of the bladder, having to get up in the night to urinate (nocturia), and urinary urgency. Research also shows that women that have IBS are more likely to experience urinary incontinence (wetting oneself) than women who do not have IBS.

Researchers don’t exactly know why there is an overlap in this double trouble, but some beliefs are that there is shared inflammation in the body, shared central nervous system dysfunction, and/or how close the organs are for elimination, sharing nerves and muscles. A study in Japan did show that about a third of people diagnosed with overactive bladder syndrome also have IBS. Again, irritability is the common denominator, but the exact reason is not yet understood.1-3

Under pressure

I personally believe that with having IBS-C, my full bowel puts pressure on my bladder, which makes me have to urinate very frequently. Having IBS-C and not IBS-D, I don’t have to deal with sprinting to the bathroom on a plane ride for #2, but I’m that annoying person that says, “Excuse me!” ten times on a flight because I constantly have to pee! I also have very interrupted sleep because I have to get up multiple times in the night to pee (nocturia). Also, just like I never feel as if I completely finish a bowel movement, I always feel like I could pee again, right after I finish going #1.

As if spending a lot of time in the bathroom isn’t enough with irritable bowel syndrome, us IBS sufferers are also more likely to experience irritable bladder, which also makes the bathroom the most frequented room in the house. I definitely noticed that once I started experiencing IBS, I also experienced an overactive bladder. It can be quite embarrassing to have to go all the time, especially during a work setting. I try to stay very hydrated because it’s good for IBS-C, and even though it might make me have to go to the bathroom for #1 ALL the time, I think it’s worth it to be healthy and hydrated.

Have you noticed that once you started to experience IBS that your bladder also became irritable? How do you manage having an irritable bowel, and an irritable bladder?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Bolen B. IBS and Bladder Problems. Verywell website. Accessed online on 5/3/17 at
  2. 10 Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms That May Surprise You. Diarrhea Nurse website. Accessed online on 5/3/2017 at
  3. Relationship between overactive bladder and irritable bowel syndrome. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed online at 5/3/2017 at


  • Rann1950
    3 years ago

    Ally, Are you reading my mind? 🙂 I was ready to write my recent experience with Bowel/Bladder issues when I found your story. In recent posts I related this past years episodes beginning with pre-cancerous polyps removed, then a series of internal hemmorroids banded for removal. All this due to my life long “fun” with IBS-D. The pain I have been experiencing from all these procedures has and is horrendous and frustrating when sitting on chairs or in my car is eye watering. My Colorectal doctor has prescribed a nitroglycerin cream for the pain and has referred me to physical therapy for my pelvic floor. She told me my pelvic floor is damaged and inflamed from the IBS and procedures. The fun continues as I try to adjust now to a leaky bladder as well as IBS. Stay tuned!

  • Ally Marie author
    3 years ago

    Hi Roberta! I must be!! 🙂 Oh wow! That is so very interesting! My Mom also has IBS-D, and also has to work on her pelvic floor and leaky bladder! It’s so amazing how our bodies are SO tied together in so many ways! I’m so sorry that you are experiencing such horrendous and frustrating pain! I hope that the prescription and physical therapy helps! Keep us posted!! xoxo, Ally

  • Chris Hall moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Roberta,

    So great to hear from you again! I’m sorry to read how much you have on your plate. The frustration and pain must be a lot to bear, but reading your comment has convinced me that you’re a warrior! Regarding the “double trouble”––you’re not alone there! We received a lot of feedback from the community that they also experience an overactive bladder.

    Please do keep us updated! And of course, we always look forward to hearing community members’ stories, so you’re always welcome to share again here:

    Take care!
    Chris, Team Member

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