Patients with COVID-19 infection are at increased risk for developing new or worsening overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms, according to data presented at the American Urological Association’s 2022 annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ly Hoang Roberts, MD, of Oakland University, Royal Oak, Michigan, and colleagues noted they were the first US group to identify de novo genitourinary symptoms, such as frequency, urgency, nocturia, and pain/pressure, in individuals with prior COVID-19 infection. They termed this condition COVID-19 associated cystitis (CAC).

Among the BLAST COVID study group, 1895 individuals responded to a survey assessing their OAB symptoms before and after the start of the pandemic, including 605 individuals who were infected with the COVID-19 virus. The vast majority of the study group were female (81.7%) and White race (85.8%). Black (4.1%), Asian (3.8%), and Hispanic (1.4%) individuals formed the minority.

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Approximately one-third of patients with COVID-19 reported a clinically significant 1-unit increase in symptoms on the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Overactive Bladder Module (ICIQ-OAB) at 2 months after infection compared with before the pandemic, Dr Roberts reported. For 1 in 5 of these patients, OAB symptoms were new.

Comparing the pre-pandemic period to the present day, 35.7% of participants with prior COVID-19 infection and 15.7% of uninfected participants reported a 1-unit increase in symptoms on the ICIQ-OAB. Infected patients had significant 3.0-fold increased odds of new or worsening OAB symptoms.

COVID-19 antibody levels did not correlate with OAB symptoms, Dr Roberts reported. She noted that patients with CAC are being followed prospectively to assess the progression of OAB symptoms.

In an interview, co-investigator Michael Chancellor, MD, noted that their team has spoken with other clinicians observing CAC in their patients. “New onset overactive bladder symptoms after COVID-19 may be disease-related,” he said. “Workup and treatment should be like that outlined in OAB guidelines. Since we don’t yet know if COVID-19 cystitis resolves or persists for the ‘long haul,’ we should treat patients conservatively and avoid surgery or permanent procedures.” 


Hoang Roberts L, Zwaan B, Chancellor M, Peters K, Padmanabhan P. The incidence of new or worsening OAB symptoms in patients with prior SARS CoV-2 infection. Presented at: AUA 2022; May 13-16, 2022, New Orleans, Louisiana. Abstract PD21-08.