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Oxybutynin (Cystrin, Ditropan, Lyrinel XL, Kentera)

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Oxybutynin will help to ease urinary symptoms such as urge and frequency in adults and night-time bedwetting in older children.

It may cause you to feel sleepy. If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines while affected.

Type of medicineAn antimuscarinic medicine
Used forUrinary symptoms such as frequency, urgency and incontinence; bedwetting caused by an overactive bladder
Also calledCystrin®, Ditropan®, Lyrinel® XL, Kentera®
Available asTablets, prolonged-release tablets, oral liquid medicine, and patches

Oxybutynin is prescribed to treat urinary symptoms such as urgency, frequency and incontinence. Urinary urgency occurs when you have a sudden and urgent need to pass urine. If you need to take more trips to the toilet than normal, this is called urinary frequency. If you leak urine before you go to the toilet, this is called incontinence.

There are several different causes of these urinary symptoms, such as weakened pelvic floor muscles, problems causing your bladder muscles to contract too much or too early and medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Sometimes the cause of these symptoms is unknown.

In addition to these uses, oxybutynin can also be prescribed for older children (over 5 years of age) to help reduce bedwetting caused by an overactive bladder.

Oxybutynin works by relaxing the muscles of the bladder and stopping sudden muscle contractions. It also increases the volume of urine that the bladder can hold. These actions help to control the release of urine and ease your symptoms.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking oxybutynin it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have a heart condition, such as an unusual heart rhythm, problems with the blood vessels in your heart, or heart failure.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works or with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have any problems with your prostate gland.
  • If you have any of the following conditions: increased eye pressure (called glaucoma); hiatus hernia; an overactive thyroid; high blood pressure; a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have a condition which could cause a blockage in your stomach, bowel or urinary tract.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood condition called porphyria.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Take oxybutynin exactly as your doctor tells you to. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you but if you are unsure about what to do, please ask your pharmacist to explain it to you again. You can take oxybutynin either before or after meals.
  • There are several strengths of standard-release tablet available: 2.5 mg, 3 mg and 5 mg. The brand names of this type of tablet are Cystrin® and Ditropan®. An oral liquid medicine is available for children and people who have difficulty swallowing tablets. If you have been prescribed standard-release tablets or oral liquid medicine, you will be asked to take one dose two or three times a day to begin with. Your doctor may increase your dose as you go on, depending upon how you respond. If the tablets/medicine have been prescribed for your child to reduce bedwetting, it is best if they take the last dose just before they go to bed.
  • If you have been prescribed the prolonged-release tablets (brand name Lyrinel® XL) you will be asked to take one tablet every day to begin with, although your doctor may increase your dose as you go on. These tablets have been specially made to release oxybutynin evenly over the day, so it is important that you swallow the tablet whole - do not chew or crush it before you swallow.
  • Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them regularly. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • If you have been prescribed oxybutynin patches (brand name Kentera®), you should apply one patch twice-weekly.
  • Apply a patch to a clean, dry area of skin on your tummy (abdomen), hip or bottom. Leave the patch in place for three or four days and then remove it before applying another patch. Apply the new patch to a different area of skin (on your abdomen, hip or bottom). Leave the second patch in place for the rest of the week and then start the next week with a new patch again.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about oxybutynin and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress and review your treatment.
  • Drinks containing caffeine (for example, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cola) may make your symptoms worse. This is because caffeine increases urine flow (it is a natural diuretic) and will make you want to pass urine. If you drink a lot of caffeine-containing drinks, consider switching to decaffeinated alternatives.
  • Try to maintain a normal life as much as possible with regard to drinking and visiting the toilet. However, drinking late at night may mean your sleep is disturbed by the desire to get up and go to the toilet, so you may want to avoid drinking too much during the evening.
  • Your doctor may suggest that you do some pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles around the underside of your bladder. These can help to improve your symptoms.
  • If you buy any medicines or herbal remedies, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with oxybutynin. Some medicines (particularly antihistamines) can increase the chance that you will experience unwanted effects such as a dry mouth, constipation and feeling sleepy.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the common ones associated with oxybutynin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common oxybutynin side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Dry mouthTry chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets
ConstipationTry to eat a well-balanced diet and drink several glasses of water each day
Feeling sick, tummy (abdominal) painEat simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods
Feeling sleepy or dizzy, or blurred visionDo not drive or use tools or machines while affected
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Dry skinUse a moisturiser regularly
Common oxybutynin side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids
Urine infections, skin irritation (if using patches), feeling confused, dry eyes, flushing, difficulty passing urineIf any become troublesome, please speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to oxybutynin, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Remember to check the expiry date on the pack. The liquid medicine keeps for one month after the bottle has been opened.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
3863 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
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