How should I prepare for appointment to diagnose my urinary incontinence?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

When you make the appointment, ask the doctor or nurse about any restrictions you might have before the appointment. Bring a journal that has detailed your incontinent incidents, as well as symptoms - even if they seem unrelated. Urinary incontinence is often a symptom of another condition, so it's important to give your doctor as much information as possible. Detail your personal information - including changes in your life that may be causing issues - as well as all medications, as some can be responsible for urinary incontinence.

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Before seeing your doctor for urinary incontinence, keep a written record of your urination habits for at least three days. Note when the leaking occurred, what you were doing at the time, what appears to make the problem worse, and what appears to make the problem better. This will help your doctor determine the type or types of incontinence you have. Treatment varies according to type.
To pinpoint and treat the underlying problem of urinary incontinence, your physician will need you to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. You might be asked to keep a diary of urinations and fluid intake for a few days. At your visit, be prepared to give a full medical history, including details on all surgeries, births, and any prescriptions you are taking. You may also need to answer specific questions such as these:
  • When did the incontinence start?
  • How often do you have leakage?
  • Is it worse during the day or night?
  • What brings it on? Do you have any warning?
  • What makes it worse?
  • Does anything make it better?
  • Do you generally leak a little (damp underwear), a moderate amount (your underwear is soaked), or a lot (your clothing gets soaked and all the urine in your bladder comes out)?
  • Do you leak urine during intercourse or with orgasm?
  • What is your typical fluid intake (including caffeinated and alcoholic beverages)?
  • How often do you go to the toilet to empty your bladder during the daytime? How often when you are trying to sleep?
  • Do you have other problems urinating? After you urinate, does your bladder still feel full? Do you have trouble starting the urine flow? Is the stream weak or strong? Is urination ever painful?
  • Have you also had trouble controlling your bowel movements?
  • What medications are you taking?
  • Are you using pads or other means to manage your incontinence? How is it working?
  • Have you altered your activities because of incontinence?

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.