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Multiple Sclerosis, UTIs and Bladder Issues

Multiple Sclerosis can affect the bladder and cause issues with UTIs. According to MS Society:

Bladder dysfunction, which occurs in at least 80 percent of people with MS, happens when MS lesions block or delay transmission of nerve signals in areas of the central nervous system (CNS) that control the bladder and urinary sphincters. A spastic (overactive) bladder that is unable to hold the normal amount of urine, or a bladder that does not empty properly (retains some urine in it) can cause symptoms including:

  • Frequency and/or urgency of urination

  • Hesitancy in starting urination

  • Frequent nighttime urination (nocturia)

  • Incontinence (the inability to hold in urine)

  • Inability to empty the bladder completely

UTIs and MS

We are passionate about MS patients asking the hard questions and getting good answers. In a recent webinar, MS patient Shirley posed this question:

"Is there a reason that you go in for a culture with the UTI -- and say, you go through a round of antibiotics -- is there a reason why they don't test you again after? Is that an insurance thing?"

We sought the answer from Anna Wechta, BSN, RN, Clinical Research Coordinator of Female Urology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). She begins addressing the issue of UTIs and MS with this:

"I think it's a practitioner thing. There are some practitioners that will do something called 'culture for cure.' There are others that say...anyone who know intermittent cathing, you're gonna be colonized with bacteria simply because of how you drain your bladder. And it's only when those bacteria reach a certain count that you develop symptoms..."

Grab Wechta's comprehensive answer in the video below:

MS and Bladder Spasms

MS bladder spasms are another common symptom. According to, MS "can cause a mismatch of signals between the brain and spinal cord and this can affect your bladder function. This can lead to the bladder randomly going into spasm. A spasm is when the bladder shrinks involuntarily resulting in incontinence. It feels like you are letting go of the urine, but without having any control over the contraction."

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