Your doctor may have you fill out 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. In a bladder diary, you record when, how much and what kind of fluids you consume, as well as when and how much you urinate and when you experience incontinence episodes.
Your diary may reveal patterns that help your doctor understand your 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 urine 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.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. List your most important questions first, to be sure you cover those points.
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 other questions as they occur to you during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Be prepared to answer questions from your doctor. Questions your doctor might ask include:
- 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 bothers you most about your urinary incontinence?
- Do you also have bowel leakage? How often? Does this cause you to restrict your activities?
- Does it seem as if there's something "falling out" of your pelvis or vagina?