Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have urinary incontinence, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a urologist or a urogynecologist if you are a woman.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to urinary incontinence.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Bring a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For urinary incontinence, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Other than the most likely cause, are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
  • Is my incontinence temporary or will I always have it?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
  • Are there any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing for me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is also likely to ask you questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first experience symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • How often do you need to urinate?
  • When do you leak urine?
  • Do you have trouble emptying your bladder?
  • Have you noticed blood in your urine?
  • Do you smoke?
  • How often do you drink alcohol?
  • How often do you drink caffeinated beverages?
  • How often do you eat spicy, acidic or sugary foods?
Jun. 25, 2011