Doctor Touching Patient's Arm

Can We Talk? Having “That Talk” About OAB with Your Doctor

Just going to the doctor may make people anxious. Lots of us show up early for our appointments and sit there waiting for another twenty minutes before we are even taken to the exam room. Then our mind begins to wander as to what we are going to say in the 15 minutes we have with the doctor. To ensure your concerns will be addressed, you need to come prepared. That means that you must know what you intend to talk about and write down your health concerns and questions.

When talking about any health concern, you should share information with your doctor about how you feel physically, as well as how your health concern is affecting you mentally.

Your doctor is not a mind reader. You must be able to speak your mind and discuss things that may seem embarrassing. It is better to be honest with your doctor rather than being shy about how you are feeling. Your doctor is used to talking about all kinds of personal matters.

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects millions of people worldwide and many of those affected are women. Yet, it remains an embarrassing topic and its greatly unreported to our doctors. If your doctor doesn’t ask you about your OAB symptoms, you must bring up the topic yourself. Certainly, do not wait until the end of your visit to start the discussion.

It’s very important to ask for help if you have symptoms of OAB. Your doctor may be able to identify factors that can be contributing, or even worsening the symptoms associated with OAB and recommend treatment options available to manage your symptoms. If OAB is left untreated, symptoms can sometimes worsen over time.

Let’s discuss what you need to tell your doctor:

When you are initially asked the reason for your visit, it is important to share any symptoms you have. One of the most common symptoms of OAB is a sudden urge to urinate that is difficult to control. Leaking of urine may also occur. Another symptom of OAB is having to go to the bathroom several times during the day and night.

When describing any of your OAB symptoms, be clear and concise. This will help your doctor identify the problem. The way you describe your symptoms will help point your doctor in the right direction for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

“When talking about any health concern, you should share information with your doctor about how you feel physically, as well as how your health concern is affecting you mentally.”

Take information with you to the doctor

  • Make notes about your symptoms. Jot down when your symptoms began, when they happen, how often they occur, what seems to make them get better or worse, and if they are interfering with your life and keeping you from doing your usual activities. You must be open and honest as your clinician needs to know how you are feeling and what your life is like as a result of these symptoms.
  • Bring a list of questions. Some things you might want to ask:
    • Are my symptoms due to OAB or something else?
    • Can I do anything to prevent OAB symptoms?
    • What causes OAB?
    • What treatment do you recommend for me?
    • Can my OAB symptoms be managed?
    • What lifestyle changes should I make?
  • Share your medical history and be able to tell your doctor about your illnesses, operations and medical conditions.
  • If requested, share your former doctors’ information and be prepared to sign a medical release, which gives permission to request your records.
  • Your doctor also needs to know about any medication you are currently taking, including any over-the-counter (nonprescription) products, herbal remedies or supplements. This should include vitamins and how often you are taking any of these products. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any drug allergies.
  • You should also provide the phone number of the pharmacy you use.
  • You should also take your insurance cards and share the names and phone numbers of other doctors you see, and your previous medical records if the doctor doesn’t already have them.
  • If you don’t understand something, ask questions until you do.
  • Take notes about what the doctor says.
  • Be sure to ask the best way to stay in communication with the doctor (phone, email, patient portal).

In closing, OAB isn’t a normal part of aging. The symptoms of OAB can disrupt your life. Even though it might not be easy to discuss with your doctor, it’s important for you to know that there are treatments available that might help you.

This article was written and provided for use by Karen Giblin, from the Red Hot Mamas for Urovant Sciences. For more information, visit