Talking to Your Doctor About Urinary Incontinence
Michael Jubinville, MPH
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it's essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors or experience with urinary incontinence. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
- Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
About Your Risk of Developing Urinary Incontinence
- Based on my health history, am I at risk of developing urinary incontinence?
- Should I start Kegel exercises or estrogen cream (for women) now to help prevent it from happening?
- Do any of the medicines I take make my risk higher?
- Are there other things I can do to make my risk lower?
About the Cause of Urinary Incontinence
- What could have caused my incontinence?
- Is there more than one factor or cause?
About Your Risk of Developing Complications From Urinary Incontinence
- What can I use on my skin to keep urine from breaking it down?
- Are there other problems that I should be aware of?
About Treatment Options
- How is urinary incontinence normally treated?
- Are there any newer treatments that may work better for me?
- Do you think I should join a clinical trial?
- Is there a clinical trial that will work for me?
About Lifestyle Changes
- Are there any medicines that will supplement my fluid restriction and prolong the time between visits to the bathroom?
- Will medicines like these be safe for me to use?
- How often should I do Kegel exercises?
- What about regular physical exercise? What type of exercise is safest for me?
- Can I be cured?
- If I am cured, could the problem return?
- Will my treatment have any lasting negative effects?
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed January 15, 2019.
Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900624/Urinary-incontinence-in-men. Updated December 4, 2018. Accessed January 15, 2019.
Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900573/Urinary-incontinence-in-women. Updated November 14, 2018. Accessed January 15, 2019.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 1/15/2019