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Holly Robinson Peete On The Struggle Many Women Won’t Talk About: “You Don’t Have to Be Ashamed”

The First for Women cover girl opens up about her struggles with overactive bladder

From her early days on TV’s 21 Jump Street in the late 1980s to her latest roles as a television host on Hallmark’s Morning Show Mysteries and as the host and producer of Queen’s Court, actress Holly Robinson Peete has been all go-go-go.

But about a year ago, the 59-year-old philanthropist and a mom of four started experiencing a new, physical type of “go-go-go”…that was putting a hitch in her busy plans. Worried, she visited her doctor and was diagnosed with a condition called overactive bladder (OAB).

In a candid interview for our latest issue of FIRST forWomenon sale now!Holly Robinson Peete opens up about her struggle with OAB, her successful treatment plan and her mission aid other women by bringing it into the light.

What where Holly Robinson Peete’s symptoms?

“I noticed I was going to the bathroom a lot and had a sudden urge to go, like now,” Peete shares with First for Women, noting that this urgency meant that she needed to request an aisle seat on planes and ask wardrobe departments on sets for simpler outfits to make it easier for her to go to the bathroom. “I also always made sure I had my incontinence underwear handy,” she reveals.

Then during one shoot, Peete just couldn’t take it anymore. “I was number one on the call sheet on set, and everyone started joking about me because I’d always say, ‘I have to go 10-1,’ which is code for having to go to the bathroom.”

“It was always, ‘Number one has to go 10-1’ blasted all over the walkie talkies,” she remembers. “And since they have to put into the production report how many times the lead actress has to go to the bathroom, it was so embarrassing! It was then that I realized I had to see the doctor.”

After laying out all her symptoms to her doctor, Holly realized that what was happening was not normal. “I was surprised when my doctor said I had something called overactive bladder (OAB).”

Holly robinson peete 2023
Holly Robinson Peete 2023AFF-USA/Shutterstock

What is overactive bladder (OAB)?

Overactive bladder (OAB) is a condition characterized by a combination of symptoms that include more frequent urination (often referred to as frequency), uncontrollable urges to urinate (or urgency), urination at night and/or incontinence.

According to the National Overactive Bladder Evaluation study, as many as 33 million adult Americans meet the criteria for OAB — though many sufferers do not seek medical help and many family physicians and even gynecologists are not familiar with this issue.

For Holly, knowing what she was actually dealing with was a great relief. “I had signs of OAB for about two years before actually getting the diagnosis,” she explains. “I just thought it was just part of getting older, menopause was kicking my butt at the time, so I thought it was that.”

She also wishes she had known what was happening to her sooner. “Women are working so hard and handling many things for everybody that we put ourselves on the bottom of our to-do lists,” Peete admits. “We have to act for ourselves faster.” 

How is Holly Robinson Peete treating her OAB?

After consulting with her doctor, Peete was prescribed Gemtesa, a drug that helps control urgency, leaks and frequency. She was also advised to reduce her caffeine intake and lower her stress levels — both of which can exacerbate the symptoms of OAB.

After learning that of the biggest OAB culprits is caffeine, and as a coffee lover, Peete didn’t want to give up her morning brew. But she says she’s changed up her caffeinated java of choice to a mushroom variety.

“It sounds weird, but Ryze [mushroom coffee] is a very popular one and I love it,” Peete smiles. “Regular coffee was making me a little jittery so mushroom coffee has good stuff for anti-aging, good healthy energy, good for focus, good for digestion and no jittery caffeine that will also make you have to go.” 

She adds a dash of goat milk with cream and a few drops of Stevia and Peete is on her way.  “I’m really trying to keep the sugar down lately,” she adds. “Mushroom coffee doesn’t sound so delicious, but I’m really obsessing over it lately.” 

How does Holly Robinson Peete reduce stress?

Peete has taken to calming remedies for her daily life that not only relieve anxiety but also help restore energy and manage her OAB symptoms. 

“I love the Calm App,” she says. “I do a daily meditation on that app and set my intentions every morning before getting out of bed on how to tackle the day.  Those seven minutes help me focus and kick off my day in a peaceful way. I find it helps my state of mind; it makes me more even.”

“But the best thing for me to get energy reserves is something called N-A-P,” Peete smiles. “If I can get a 20 minute nap, that makes a big difference in my energy.  And it makes me feel I’ve accomplished something.  It’s like oh my gosh, I’ve really shut it all down in the middle of the day! And it gives me energy for the rest of the day. Plus, my dog will take a nap with me in a heartbeat.” 

Holly with her dogs
Holly with her dogsFacebook/HollyRobinsonPeete

In the evening, Holly sits back and sips on a cup of Pukka tea. “They have a great nighttime tea.” Before lights out, Holly picks up her gratitude journal to make some notes. “The last thing I wrote in it was ‘patience.’ I’ve chosen to focus on that one word lately.” 

What else does Holly Robinson Peete do to stay healthy?

Peete also fits in a bit of exercise in to help with stress reduction and to boost energy.  “I get on the Power Plate for ten minutes to get my circulation going,” she explains.  “Then I might do a walk or even hike for 45 minutes and it can be on the treadmill too.  I think getting the blood running through the body is so important.” 

She has also discovered the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy after her husband, former NFL player, Rodney Peete introduced her to it. The therapy involves breathing 100% (pure) oxygen while in a hyperbaric chamber where the air pressure inside is raised to a level that is higher than normal air pressure. The increased air pressure in the chamber helps the lungs collect more oxygen. “My husband got one years ago to recover from a football injury in half the time,” she recalls.

Holly Robinson Peete and family
Holly Robinson Peete, Rodney Peete and family Scott Kirkland/Shutterstock

“In my experience, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is great for aging, jet lag, joint pain, stress and good for people with autism, so we invested in one and use it all the time,” says Peete, whose 25 year-old son, RJ, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and now leads a productive life working for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

What is Holly Robinson Peete up to now?

After her OAB diagnosis and finding a successful treatment plan, Holly decided to share her new knowledge and become the spokesperson for the “Time to Go Campaign,” an overactive bladder awareness campaign launched by Urovant Sciences.

“I was motivated because I was dealing with OAB and also I discovered there were different ways I could treat it — it’s really given me a new lease on life and I wanted to share that with other women who may be going through the same thing,” Peete says. “I tell women who are experiencing symptoms of urgency, frequency, don’t wait. Take care of you and go talk to your doctor. You don’t have to be ashamed.” 

For more of Holly’s insights, tips and tricks, pick up the newest issue of FIRST for Women at your local grocery store, or buy it here to have it delivered right to your door.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

Bonnie Siegler is an established international writer covering the celebrity circuit for more than 15 years.  Bonnie’s resume includes two books that combine her knowledge of entertaining with celebrity health and fitness and has written travel stories which focus on sustainable living.  She has contributed to magazines including Woman’s World and First for WomenElle, InStyle, Shape, TV Guide and Viva.  Bonnie served as West Coast Entertainment Director for Rive Gauche Media overseeing the planning and development of print and digital content.  She has also appeared on entertainment news shows Extra and Inside Edition.

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