Bladder control issues are not a normal part of aging—seek care and ask your doctor about treatment options. Take time to learn how your bladder control problems might relate to possible pelvic floor disorders. There may be steps to take to help improve your pelvic health.
Find a Doctor
Many types of doctors can diagnosis UI problems such as primary care physicians, OB/GYNs, urologists, and urogynecologists. Urogyns offer additional expertise. Talk with your doctor about a referral to a urogyn, if needed. Or find a urogyn in your area:
Get Yourself Ready
Get ready for your doctor’s appointment:
History and Physical Exam
Diagnosis starts with a detailed medical history and physical exam performed by your doctor. During this appointment, the doctor evaluates your symptoms and tries to diagnosis the type of urinary incontinence. Your doctor also conducts a detailed pelvic exam to evaluate your pelvic support, anatomy, and muscle strength. Be prepared to answer questions about risk factors for incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders, such as your:
- Pregnancy and childbirth history.
- Bowel habits.
- Medicines—both over-the-counter and prescriptions, as well nutrition supplements.
- Sex life—any discomfort of pain you are experiencing during and after intercourse.
Your doctor may have you fill out a bladder diary to better understand how often and how much you urinate and what leads to urinary leakage.
The diary can help you track voiding behavior. Many urinary issues develop slowly, over time. You may not be aware of how often you void, or how often you revise usual activities because of fear of leakage—because the problem has been sneaking up on you for so long. Seeing this reality “in writing” can be useful for you and your doctor.
At the beginning of treatment, bladder diaries are helpful in establishing the nature and severity of your bladder control problem. Also, because many times the benefits of treatment take a long time to become obvious, small changes in bladder diary information can help a woman’s provider know whether or not a set of treatments is working.
Depending on your symptoms and physical exam, your doctor may want to do some additional bladder testing:
Learn more about urodynamics and cystoscopy.
- Urodynamics: A series of tests, which help your doctor make sure you are emptying your bladder. In certain cases, more testing is required to understand what actions lead to urinary leakage.
- Cystoscopy: Lets the doctor look inside your bladder with a small camera. This is usually an outpatient procedure performed in your doctor’s office.