The first-ever non-prescription treatment for overactive bladder (OAB) is on drug-store shelves now. Oxytrol for Women, manufactured by Actavis, is a patch that you place on your skin. It remains effective for up to 4 days before you replace it with another.

How it works

The medicine in an Oxytrol for Women patch, oxybutynin, is absorbed through the skin. It relaxes muscles in the bladder to relieve three kinds of symptoms:

• Frequency, or how often you need to urinate
• Urgency, or how strong your need to urinate feels
• Incontinence, or the inability to control when urine is released

The patches don’t limit everyday activities and can even be worn while bathing. They cost about one dollar a day.

How well does Oxytrol for Women work? In one study, urinary accidents were reduced 75 percent in patients who used the patch and also practiced lifestyle changes including timed urination, pelvic-floor exercises and managing fluid intake. By comparison, a placebo plus those same lifestyle changes reduced accidents by only 50 percent.

It’s worth remembering that there’s no cure for overactive bladder, but a variety of treatments and lifestyle tips are available that can help most patients to achieve good control of their symptoms.

Is It right for You?

Like many medications, Oxytrol for Women works better for some patients than others. The only way to know whether it will benefit you is to try it. But even though it’s sold without a prescription, it’s a good idea to discuss it with your doctor before using it. He or she can tell you whether there are any reasons why it may not be appropriate in your case. Your doctor can also monitor its effects, make suggestions and answer questions about its use, and coordinate it with other treatments to help you get the best possible results.

To learn more about overactive bladder:
8 Dos and Don'ts for Overactive Bladder
Teaching Your Bladder to Behave
Is It Overactive Bladder, or Something Else?