Talking to Your Doctor About Urinary Incontinence

Does the thought of talking with your healthcare professional about urinary incontinence make you feel uncomfortable? Explore how to overcome this hurdle and get the care you need, and learn what questions you can ask.

Diagnosing Bladder Disorders

Get tips on how to talk about urinary incontinence with your doctor.

Addressing urinary incontinence begins by talking to your doctor. For many, however, that's not an easy thing to do. People with bladder control issues can feel embarrassed to talk to their physician about their accidents or sudden urges to urinate. Older adults often accept frequent incontinence or other urinary problems as part of the aging process.

To solve your urinary incontinence issues, however, it’s important to gather the courage to discuss what you’re experiencing, provide useful information for a diagnosis, and ask the right questions.

Overcoming embarrassment

If you’re embarrassed to see a healthcare professional about your urinary incontinence, here are a few facts and tips that might motivate you to make an appointment:

  • Medical professionals are trained to discuss and treat a wide range of incontinence issues — having these conversations is part of their job
  • An underlying and potentially serious issue could be the cause of your incontinence, so it's vital to connect with your doctor as soon as possible
  • Coming to your doctor's appointment with detailed information about what you’ve been experiencing can make talking about your incontinence easier

Bringing a bladder diary to your doctor appointment

One of the ways you can help your healthcare team understand what's going on with your urinary function is by keeping a bladder diary . A bladder diary is simply a log of:

  • Your daily food and fluid intake by timing and amount
  • Timing of urination and a rough estimate of the amount of urine
  • Accidents or leakage, including amount, any urge feelings, and what you were doing when they occurred
  • Any other relevant observations about your incontinence experience

Be aware that there are several types of urinary incontinence. Identifying the correct type is like detective work that relies on good information. The more details you can provide to your healthcare professional about your incontinence, the easier it will be for them to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a recommended treatment. If you don't have a bladder diary ready, bring detailed notes to your appointment.

Asking your doctor questions about your urinary incontinence

Once you've overcome any embarrassment, and filled out a bladder diary or written up notes, it's a good idea to come to your appointment prepared with a list of questions. The conversation will focus on your specific situation, but here are a few general questions you can ask:

  • What is my diagnosis? What type of urinary incontinence do I have, and what is causing it?
  • Can you help with my incontinence, or do I need to see a specialist?
  • What's your recommended treatment for my type of incontinence? What will happen without treatment?
  • Are there any diet, lifestyle, or bathroom routine changes that you would recommend?
  • What's my long-term plan? Will your recommended treatment solve my incontinence issues, or will I need to continue to manage it?

As with any medical issue, talking to your doctor is an important first step. Once you overcome any apprehension, come to your appointment with information, and ask the right questions, you'll be well on your way to addressing your urinary incontinence issues.