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How to Talk to Your Doctor About Urinary Incontinence

bladder diary healthcare provider questions about urinary incontinence questions to ask your doctor treatment for stress incontinence urinary incontinence

How do I talk about urinary incontinence with my Healthcare Provider? 

The first step in diagnosing urinary incontinence is to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Start with finding a Primary Care Provider who can often initiate treatment without sending you to a specialist. If needed, they can refer you to a urologist or gynecologist. These are doctors who have more experience with pelvic floor conditions like urinary incontinence. Some may have obtained additional certification in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS) for more severe treatment plans.

"If you think you have any problems with urinary incontinence, tell your provider about what's happening. That is the only way to know for sure and find relief."

Before your visit write down your experiences and questions and bring this to your doctor's appointment. Your notes will help you remember what you want to say.
Write down a list of:
  • Your symptoms, how they affect you, and how often they occur
  • How often you go to the bathroom, or if you have any leaks or accidents
  • Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicine, vitamins and herbs you take
  • Past and current illnesses, surgeries or injuries
  • Questions you want to ask & bring up the topic

Questions about Urinary Incontinence 

Some people find it helpful to use questions like these to help begin the conversation:
  • I am afraid to be too far from a bathroom or change of clothes because of leaking. What can I do to manage this problem better?
  • I've changed my daily habits because I am afraid of "accidents". What can I do to get my life back?
  • I have stopped exercising or playing sports because I leak urine. Can you help me get back to doing the things I enjoy?
  • I have become uncomfortable with myself and my body because I leak urine. What can I do to regain control?
  • I avoid having sex because I am worried that I may leak. Please help me learn some strategies to help with this.

"Tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms and feelings. Talk about how your life is affected. Your provider is used to hearing about all kinds of problems."

Talk About Next Steps

When you speak with someone who can address your concerns, it helps to write down what you want to ask in advance. Bring your list with you to your visit. You may also want to begin a bladder diary. The bladder diary is a tool to track urinary patterns. With it, you write down when you urinate and leak, what might trigger problems, and eating /drinking patterns for a few days. Bring the diary with you to your appointment. You and your healthcare provider will go over it together in order to find the best course of treatment for you.

"You may also want to begin a bladder diary. The bladder diary is a tool to track urinary patterns."

Several types of treatment are available for stress incontinence. Treatment includes a wide range of options from lifestyle changes to medications, nonsurgical treatments, and in more severe cases, surgery to correct the urethra and pelvic floor. 

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