SUFU white paper on overactive bladder anticholinergic medications and dementia risk

Neurourol Urodyn. 2022 Nov;41(8):1928-1933. doi: 10.1002/nau.25037. Epub 2022 Sep 6.


Aims: Anticholinergic medications are widely used in the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB), as well as for short-term treatment of bladder symptoms following a variety of urologic surgeries. Mounting evidence points to an association between anticholinergic medications and the increased risk of incident dementia. The Society for Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine, and Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU) thus convened a committee of subject experts to contextualize the current understanding of the cognitive risks of anticholinergic medications in the urologic patient population and to provide practical clinical guidance on this subject.

Methods: Statements are based on an expert literature review and the committee's opinion. The document has been reviewed and approved by the SUFU board.

Results: Chronic use (>3 months) of OAB anticholinergic medications is likely associated with an increased risk of new-onset dementia. Short-term (<4 weeks) use of most OAB anticholinergic medications is likely safe in most individuals. Clinicians should consider potential cognitive risks in all patient populations when prescribing OAB anticholinergics for chronic use. Consideration should be given to progressing to advanced therapy (botulinum toxin or neuromodulation) earlier in the OAB treatment paradigm CONCLUSIONS: The current body of literature supports a likely small but significant increased risk of dementia with chronic exposure to OAB anticholinergic medications. Potential harms should be balanced against potential quality of life improvement with treatment.

Keywords: anticholinergic; antimuscarinic; cognitive impairment; dementia; overactive bladder; urgency incontinence.

MeSH terms

  • Cholinergic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Dementia* / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Repressor Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive* / therapy
  • Urodynamics


  • Cholinergic Antagonists
  • Repressor Proteins