Oxybutynin

Sounds like 'OX-i-BUE-ti-nin'

Oxybutynin is used to treat some bladder control problems. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Oxybutynin is also called Ditropan.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Medicine to treat urinary symptoms such as incontinence
  • It belongs to a group of medicines known as anti-cholinergics.
  • Apo-Oxybutynin®
  • Ditropan®

What is oxybutynin?

  • Oxybutynin is used to treat some bladder control problems and urinary conditions such as overactive bladder, incontinence, urinary frequency (the need to pass urine/pee more often than usual) and urinary urgency (the need to pass urine more urgently than usual).
  • It works by relaxing the muscles in the bladder and in this way controls the release of urine and eases the symptoms.
  • Read more about bladder control problems.

Dose

  • In Aotearoa New Zealand oxybutynin is available as 5 mg tablets and 5 mg/5 mL oral liquid.
  • The usual starting dose of oxybutynin is 2.5 mg 2 or 3 times a day.  
    • If you are older, your doctor may start you on a dose of 2.5 mg twice a day.
  • Depending on your response, your doctor may increase your dose gradually to 5 mgs 4 times a day.
  • Always take your oxybutynin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much oxybutynin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take oxybutynin

  • Take oxybutynin tablets with a glass of water at the same times each day.
  • You can take oxybutynin with or without food.
  • Halving tablets: If you need to cut a 5 mg tablet in half to get your dose, use a tablet cutter so you get an accurate dose. You can get a tablet cutter from a Pharmacy. If you are unable to do this, your Pharmacist may be able to halve these for you.
  • Take regularly: To reduce your urinary symptoms, you must keep taking oxybutynin every day.
  • Alcohol: Limit drinking alcohol while you're taking oxybutynin. Alcohol can increase the risk of side effects.
  • Missed dose: If you forget your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Precautions before taking oxybutynin

  • Do you have prostate or bowel problems?
  • Do you have urinary retention (when you cannot empty all the urine from your bladder)?
  • Do you have myasthenia gravis?
  • Do you have any heart problems?
  • Do you have Parkinson’s disease?
  • Do you have kidney or liver problems?
  • Do you have angle-closure glaucoma or dry eyes?
  • Are you taking any other medicines, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, eg, vitamins, minerals, herbal or naturopathic medicines?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you take oxybutynin. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.

Precautions when taking oxybutynin 

Interactions

Oxybutynin can interact with some medications that are available without a prescription such as some antihistamines (also in anti-allergy, anti-nausea and cough/cold preparations), meclozine (eg, Sea-legs®), prochlorperazine (eg, Buccastem®) and anti-diarrhoeals (eg, Diastop®).

Interactions can also happen with some herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new products.

Impaired vision

Avoid night driving and activities that rely on clear vision because oxybutynin can affect your distant vision and cause you to be more sensitive to light. If you have a sudden loss of vision or eye pain tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline on 0800 611 116.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, oxybutynin can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Constipation
  • Trouble peeing
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • These are quite common when you first start taking oxybutynin.
  • Read more for advice on managing constipation.
  • Try lubricating eye drops for dry eyes.
  • Tell your doctor if these bother you, your dose may need to be lowered.
  • Dry mouth
  • To prevent dry mouth, avoid using mouthwashes with alcohol.
  • Chewing on sugar-free gum, and drinking small sips of water as needed may also be helpful.
  • Keep good oral hygiene.
  • Tell your doctor if it bothers you. 
  • Read more about dry mouth.
  • Drowsiness, sleepiness or feeling tired
 
  • This is common when starting oxybutynin or after increasing the dose.
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Feeling dizzy
  • This usually only happens when you start your medication. It should wear off in a few weeks.
  • Try not to stand up too quickly because you might fall.
  • If you feel dizzy, don't drive.
  • Sudden loss of vision or eye pain
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Reduced sweating
  • Fever
  • Heat stroke
  • Flushing
  • Avoid hot environmental conditions.
  • Increase your fluid intake in hot weather or when exercising.
  • Tell your doctor if these side-effects bother you.
  • Confusion
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, hives or itches, or swelling of the face, lips, mouth 
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflets Apo-Oxybutynin.

Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on oxybutynin. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

Oxybutynin NZ Formulary, NZ
Apo-Oxybutynin Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ
Oxybutynin
 Patient Info, UK

References

Oxybutynin  NZ Formulary, NZ
Apo–oxybutynin Medsafe, NZ
Oxybutynin – safe prescribing SaferRX, NZ

Additional resources for healthcare professionals

Urinary incontinence in adults BPAC, NZ, 2013
A practical guide to stopping medicines in older people BPAC, NZ, 2010
Polypharmacy in primary care – managing a clinical conundrum BPAC, NZ, 2014
Oxybutynin – safe prescribing – a little dry SafeRx, NZ

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Maya Patel, Pharmacist Last reviewed: 07 Feb 2022