Your doctor may use a questionnaire to make a preliminary assessment of your stress incontinence symptoms. You may also be asked to keep a bladder diary for a few days. That involves recording when, how much and what kind of fluids you consume, as well as when and how much you urinate, including night-time bladder activity, and when you experience incontinence.
Your diary may reveal patterns that help your doctor understand symptoms and identify contributing factors. This may reduce the need for more invasive testing.
Specialized testing may require referral to a specialist in urinary disorders for men and women (urologist) or a specialist in urinary disorders in women (urogynecologist).
What you can do
To get the most from your visit to the doctor, prepare in advance:
- Make a list of any symptoms you're experiencing. Include when your leakage occurs.
- Make a list of any medications, herbs or vitamin supplements you take. Some over-the-counter supplements can irritate the urinary tract. Also include doses and how often you take the medication.
- Have a family member or close friend accompany you. You may be given a lot of information at your visit, and it can be difficult to remember everything.
- Take a notebook or electronic device with you. Use it to note important information during your visit.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. List your most important questions first, in case time runs out.
For urinary incontinence, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Will my urinary incontinence get worse?
- Could pelvic floor exercises help me? How do I do them?
- How does my weight affect my condition?
- Could the medicines I take be aggravating my condition?
- What tests might I need to determine the cause of my incontinence?
- Will I need surgery?
Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor. Questions your doctor might ask include:
Feb. 07, 2013
- How often do you leak urine?
- When you leak urine, is it a few drops or are your clothes soaked?
- Are there times when you know that you will leak?
- Do you leak urine when you exercise?
- Do you wake up during the night to urinate? How often?
- What's your typical daily fluid intake?
- Does anything seem to make your incontinence better? How about worse?
- What's the most bothersome aspect of your problem with urinary incontinence?
- Do you also have bowel leakage? How often? What does this bowel leakage keep you from doing?
- Clemens JQ. Urinary incontinence in men. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- DuBeau CE. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of urinary incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- DuBeau CE. Epidemiology, risk factors, and pathogenesis of urinary incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- DuBeau CE. Treatment of urinary incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Urinary incontinence. WomensHealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/urinary-incontinence.html. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Urinary incontinence in women. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen/index.htm. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Bladder and bowel health. National Association for Continence. http://www.nafc.org/. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Urinary incontinence in men. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uimen/index.aspx. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecological problems FAQ081. Urinary incontinence. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq081.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20121218T1703471630. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Loss of bladder control. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/ucm118544.htm. Accessed Jan. 3, 2013.
- Frequently asked questions. Gynecological problems FAQ166. Surgery for stress urinary incontinence. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq166.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130102T2043435319. Accessed Jan. 2, 2013.
- Hayder D. The effects of urinary incontinence on sexuality: Seeking an intimate partnership. Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing. 2012;39:539.
- Petrou SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 28, 2013.
- Lightner DT (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 21, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.