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How to discuss incontinence issues with your health care professional
Diane K Newman, RN-C, MSN, ANP posted:
Have you ever felt uncomfortable telling your doctor or nurse practitioner that you are leaking urine (what we call incontinence)? What kinds of experiences have you had with this?

Everyone feels some discomfort about bringing up this topic.

People (especially women) with incontinence problems tend not to bring them up during a routine examination. Unfortunately, some health care professionals don't automatically ask questions about urine leakage, timing, amount and frequency of incontinence episodes.

One way for anyone to feel empowered about this difficult topic is to arrive for a medical appointment with some written descriptions about the problem. This can be as simple as a list of symptoms but what I find most useful is a three day bladder diary that details exactly what is going on with a patient. You can use the bladder diary form I posted as a Resource in this exchange as a good place to start.

In addition, you can answer a standard set of questions in writing and share them during your appointment. This is an easy way to steer the conversation in the right direction. You can say something like, "I jotted down some items that I want to share with you so I wouldn't forget."

Here are some standard questions that will help you describe your problem:
  • Do I have strong, sudden urges to urinate?
  • Do I urinate more than 8 times in a 24-hour period?
  • Do I have uncontrollable urges to urinate that sometimes result in wetting accidents?
  • Do I leak urine on the way to the bathroom?
  • Do I leak urine when I laugh or cough or when I participate in active sports?
  • Do I frequently get up two or more times during the night to go to the bathroom?
  • Do I avoid places because I do not know if there is a restroom near by?
  • Do I go to the bathroom so often that it interferes with my activities?
  • Do I frequently limit my fluid intake when I'm away from home so that I won't need to worry about finding a restroom?
  • When I'm in an unfamiliar place, do I make sure I know where the restroom is?
  • Do I use absorbent pads to keep from wetting my clothes?

Remember that you and your doctor or other health care provider (nurse practitioner, physician assistant) are partners in solving your health problems. The better the information about them you share, the more likely you will both be successful.

There are many types of solutions for incontinence issues so go to your appointment expecting to control or completely resolve your urinary symptoms. And if the first treatment you try doesn't work, keep trying. No one should live with incontinence controlling their life.
Louise_WebMD_Staff responded:
This is a great tip on how to bring these issues up. I like many women do just add it in as part of my physical--not make a special appointment.
JimG28 responded:
I brought this up to my General Practicioner last November. Funny thing was that when I did, he didnt miss a beat and asked me the first six questions you had posted. It took all the courage I had to bring it up. Of course, I had to go to a urologist and endure the battery of tests. But in the end, before even seeing the urologist, I was given meds to control the spasms. I was told to keep a bladder diary and have religiously. It helps the doctor to determine what is the correct dosage and to see if the medications are working. Now 9 months later I have had a 93% improvement. I want the other 7% and wont quit till I achieve that. To those who are suffering in silence, speak up and be heard, I was glad I did and my life is mine again.


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