Botox injections are one of a number of treatment options for urinary incontinence and overactive bladder in both men and women.
When more conservative methods and lifestyle measures, such as anti-cholinergic medication and bladder re-training exercises, haven’t proved effective, Botox injections can help by reducing activity in the nerves that stimulate muscles within the bladder wall.
The Botox is injected directly into the bladder wall. This involves a procedure called a cystoscopy, where a thin tube with a camera at the end, called a cystoscope, is carefully inserted into the bladder via the urethra. Depending on the type of cystoscopy required, either a local anaesthetic gel is used to numb the urethra first and, if necessary, sedation to help you feel more relaxed. However, some cystoscopies are carried out under general anaesthetic. This will mean you’re asleep during the procedure and may need to stay slightly longer in hospital afterwards. Once the cystoscope is in place, the specialist will administer the injections through the tube.
You may notice some blood in your urine in the days following but this should settle quickly, and you should be able to return to work and normal daily activities after 24 hours. In more rare cases, urinary retention (where you’re not able to empty your bladder fully) can occur, as well as urinary tract infections. Your consultant will discuss these with you before you go home, how to minimise risks and what to do if you do experience any side-effects.
While Botox injections are not 100% effective, most people experience significant improvements in symptoms that typically last around 6-9 months.