Doctor Holding Patient's Hand

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Bladder Leaks

Talking to your doctor about bladder leaks is an important first step in getting help. It may feel intimidating but opening up about incontinence is necessary in order to learn the cause of your bladder leaks.

Read The Tips Below to Find Out How to Get The Conversation Started And Learn How to Make The Most Of Your Discussion

1. Working Up the Nerve.

You probably think about it before each visit, “Should I bring it up? It’s so embarrassing. What if they don’t take me seriously.” It’s true that talking about something as personal as incontinence is difficult. It’s not an easy subject for most people to broach, but your doctor has likely heard it all before. Incontinence is a common issue, and one that many people seek treatment for.

Your provider is a professional. They are used to dealing with all kinds of health issues, embarrassing or not, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll be anything but concerned about your incontinence.

2. Do Your Research Ahead of Time.

As they say, knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can about your condition and the options available to treat it. Your conversation will be so much more productive if you’re already well informed and know about some of the ways you’d like to try managing your bladder leaks.

3. Prepare for Your Visit.

Be as prepared as you can before your visit. Make a list of questions you have about your condition and be prepared to talk about your health history, including any medications or supplements you may be taking. Have a list of treatment options in mind to ask about, and make sure to ask your doctor about any side effects of treatment options that he recommends. Consider asking what type of results you can expect on a specific treatment. And if you’re nervous to start with medication or procedures, ask if there are any behavioral changes you might be able to make to address your bladder leaks.

Your provider is a professional. They are used to dealing with all kinds of health issues, embarrassing or not, so it’s highly unlikely they’ll be anything but concerned about your incontinence.

It’s also a good idea to use a bladder diary for a few days to a week prior to your visit. A bladder diary helps track your incontinence episodes, when you have them, how big they are and what you ate, drank or were doing prior to the accident.

Sometimes patterns emerge that can help you see the root of the problem. Do you find you’re always having an accident after that 2nd cup of coffee in the morning? It may be an indication that the caffeine is irritating your bladder and you should try going without it for a while. A bladder diary is also a good way to open up to your doctor about your issue, and to show them a firsthand look at what you’ve been experiencing.

4. Be Open and Honest.

Once you’re sitting with your doctor, it’s important not to diminish your incontinence. You’ve spent so much time now researching and putting together your questions – make sure that your doctor knows what a problem this is for you.

Tell your doctor not only about the physical aspect of having an accident, but how it makes you feel. Even small leaks can have a big emotional impact on a person and your doctor needs (and wants!) to know that. Make the urgency of your condition known to make sure they know how much it is impacting you.

5. Ask Your Doctor for Action.

It’s not the norm, but there are some doctors that may brush off incontinence, especially for women who are older or who have had children. They may tell you it’s just a function of getting older and that lots of women have it.

While it’s true that incontinence can occur more frequently as we age and it is common in women, that doesn’t mean it’s normal. Nor does it mean it’s something you should have to live with. Don’t let your doctor dismiss your concerns. Ask until you are taken seriously and a treatment plan has been put in place (and if you’re not happy with the treatment your doctor is proposing, speak up!). You can also always ask for a referral to a specialist like a urologist, if you would like a second opinion.

6. Follow Through.

Success! You found the courage to speak up, did your research and discussed treatment options with your doctor. You’ve come a long way, but the doctor/patient interaction shouldn’t end when you leave the office. You each have a role to play to ensure the management of your condition.

Before you even leave your doctor’s office, schedule a follow up appointment for some point in the future to evaluate how you’re doing.

Next, make sure you’re doing your part to stay on course. Your treatment will only work if you are consistent and follow your doctor’s orders. Take your medication regularly. Keep up with your pelvic floor exercises. Whatever treatment you’re on, keep at it.

Finally, don’t be scared to call your doctor with any follow up questions you may have, and especially if you start experiencing side effects from treatment. Your doctor will want to know about all of this and will help you make adjustments to your treatment plan to address any concerns.

Now that you have a road map, it’s time to take that very first step and call your doctor for an appointment. Nothing can happen before you do that so get going. Good luck!