Finding The Right Doctor For Bladder Leaks
When seeking out care, you’ll probably start with your primary care doctor, or the doctor you typically see for yearly checkups. This makes perfect sense. Your primary care doctor is your home base, someone you go to for initial consultations, and who you’ve likely seen many times before for checkups and other health concerns. This makes them a great first step when determining the causes of bladder and bowel leakage.
You hopefully also have a good relationship with them, which can ease some of the discomforts of talking about things like a leaky bladder or pelvic floor pain. Because your primary care doctor knows you and your health so well, they will likely be helpful in diagnosing what is causing those pesky bladder or bowel leaks, as there may be other underlying conditions he or she is also treating you for that are contributing.
However, even if that is the case, your primary care doctor may not always be the right person for managing your leaks in the long run. Here are some reasons why you may want to look beyond your primary care doctor when it comes to seeking help for bladder leaks:
- It’s possible they will give an incomplete or incorrect diagnosis.
Because a primary care doctor has not undergone specialized training in urological health, they may not catch things that a urologist would that contribute to your diagnosis and, in turn, your treatment.
- They may not be completely focused on your bladder/bowel health issues.
Because your primary care doctor treats your overall health, they may be more focused on other health concerns that you’re experiencing, and may not give much time for you to talk about those bladder leaks you’re experiencing. If you do decide to talk to your primary care doctor about bladder leaks, try to make a separate appointment to discuss it so that you and your doctor don’t get distracted with other health issues.
- They may not be aware of the latest treatments.
Because they don’t specialize in urology, your primary care doctor may not be up to date on specialized procedures, new therapies, or the latest products.
New medications, products, and procedures are always coming to market and while your regular doctor likely tries to keep up with all of them, it can be easy to miss some, especially if they are targeting a therapeutic area that he or she isn’t as focused on.
- Specialized medicine is the way of the times.
We live in a modern society, where we can measure our health stats up to the minute and can look at specialized data on just about everything that is going on in our bodies. While primary care doctor is always going to be in your corner, someone that lives and breathes bladder and bowel health may be better equipped to help you diagnose your problem and set up a treatment plan.
What Are My Options Beyond a General Practitioner?
As with anything, it may take a little trial and error before you find the right doctor. If you are having trouble getting a diagnosis, or think you may have been misdiagnosed, consider the other possibility that you are not seeing the right specialist. Your symptoms may stem from a completely different area of the body that your current doctor or specialist is not as, well, specialized in.
That being said, some common specialists that deal with bladder or bowel health conditions are:
- Urologists. Urologists are doctors that specialize in conditions that affect the urinary tract and typically see men, women, and children.
- Gynecologists. Gynecologists typically deal more with the female reproductive system. But, if this is who you typically see each year instead of a primary care doctor, they can be a good first step in asking about bladder health concerns.
- Urogynecologists. A urogynecologist is a surgeon who specializes in women with pelvic floor disorders. They perform many types of surgery, but sling surgery for stress urinary incontinence is common.
- Pelvic Health Physical Therapists. Physical therapists specialized in pelvic health help you to retrain and strengthen your pelvic floor and core muscles to work in harmony. Physical therapy is a great first-line treatment for urinary incontinence and many women see big improvements after several sessions with a physical therapist.
- Gastroenterologist. If you’re experiencing bowel health issues, a gastroenterologist is who you want to see. They specialize in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.
When To Seek Out A Specialist For Urinary Incontinence
So, when do you know it’s time to look for a specialist? There are lots of reasons you may wish to look beyond your primary doctor when it comes to treating your bladder leaks:
- In many cases, a primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist if the treatment required is beyond what they can do.
- If your condition is chronic, complex, or rare, and requires a more specialized approach.
- If your doctor is unaware of or has little knowledge of the different treatment options you’ve researched.
- If your doctor is unwilling to explore other treatment options even when you’ve requested them.
- If your doctor doesn’t take your concerns seriously or acts like they’re nothing to worry about.
- If your prescribed treatment isn’t working and your doctor doesn’t offer you any alternatives.
- If you see improvements in your condition, but then your symptoms start showing up again or getting worse.
- If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a life-changing condition that will alter your life significantly.
- If you’d simply like a second opinion on how to treat your condition.
How To Find A Specialist For Urinary Incontinence
So, maybe you’re feeling like you need to take your care a step further and look for a specialist to treat your bladder leaks. How do you go about finding one? There are several ways:
- Ask your doctor for a referral. If you trust your doctor, he or she should be able to give you a reliable referral to a specialist you can trust. Possibly even affiliated with your doctor’s practice.
- Ask a friend for a recommendation. If you know someone who may be dealing with a similar condition, ask them who they see.
- Do some online research searching for doctors in your area and look for reviews.
- Check out the NAFC Doctor Finder.
- Call a local hospital you trust and ask for their recommendations.
Beyond simply finding a new doctor, you’ll also want to take note of their demeanor. When speaking with a specialist, ask yourself these questions:
- Are they patient with your questions?
- Do they address your concerns?
- Are they open to exploring treatment options you’ve already researched or are interested in?
- Are they able to explain, in simple terms, your condition and their recommended treatment?
Ensuring you’re comfortable with your doctor is an important factor in finding the right fit for you.
Learn more about common specialists that treat bladder leaks at the links below.