How Do Genitourinary Anticholinergics Work?

Reviewed on 12/6/2021

How do genitourinary anticholinergics work?

Genitourinary anticholinergics are medications prescribed to treat bladder overactivity which can cause urinary urgency and incontinence. Genitourinary anticholinergics reduce the symptoms of bladder overactivity by inhibiting bladder contractions.

Genitourinary anticholinergics work by blocking the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that nerve endings secrete to make muscles contract. Acetylcholine activates protein molecules known as muscarinic receptors in the inner lining of the bladder, which stimulate the bladder’s detrusor muscle to contract and release urine.

Genitourinary anticholinergics bind to the muscarinic receptors in the bladder lining and prevent acetylcholine from activating muscle contraction. Some of the genitourinary anticholinergics selectively block muscarinic receptors subtype M3, which are directly responsible for the detrusor muscle contraction.

How are genitourinary anticholinergics used?

Genitourinary anticholinergics are administered as oral tablets, capsules, or suspensions, approved by the FDA for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Overactive bladder with symptoms of urge, incontinence, urgency, and frequency
  • Pediatric neurogenic detrusor overactivity, a condition due to nerve damage or disease that causes overactivity of the bladder wall muscles, which normally relax to hold urine.

What are side effects of genitourinary anticholinergics?

Side effects of genitourinary anticholinergics may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of genitourinary anticholinergic drugs?

Generic and brand names of genitourinary anticholinergic drugs include:


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