Talking to your doctor about bladder leaks is an important first step in getting treatment started. It may feel intimidating, but opening up about incontinence is necessary in order to learn the cause of your bladder leaks and to find a way to stop the leaks for good. (Click here to download a FREE packet of info to help you get the conversation going.)
READ OUR TIPS BELOW TO FIND OUT HOW TO GET THE CONVERSATION STARTED, AND LEARN HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DISCUSSION.
WORKING UP THE NERVE.
You think about it before each visit. “Should I bring it up? It’s so embarrassing. What if he doesn’t take me seriously.” It’s true that talking about something as personal as incontinence is difficult. It’s not an easy subject for anyone to broach, but the fact is, your doctor has likely heard it all before. Incontinence is a common issue and one that many people seek treatment before.
And, (we hope!) 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.
DO YOUR RESEARCH AHEAD OF TIME.
As they say, knowledge is power. Think about the time you will have with your doctor. Sure, he or she will probably recommend a treatment for you, but wouldn’t it be nice to go in already having an idea of what appeals to you? 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.
It’s also worth noting even if your doctor is very good, new medications and procedures come out all the time to help with incontinence. It’s possible that you may uncover something that your doctor isn’t aware of yet. Your doctor is, after all, only human.
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. Ask what type of success you can expect on a specific treatment (not everything is a 100% cure so it’s important to know that going in.). 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.
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 him or her a first-hand look at what you’ve been experiencing.
BE OPEN AND HONEST.
Once you’re finally 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 he or she knows how much it is impacting you.
PUSH YOUR DOCTOR FOR ACTION.
We hate to say this, and it’s definitely not the norm, but there are some doctors who 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 happen more when we age, and that 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. Keep pushing until they 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!)
If your doctor continues to brush aside your concerns about incontinence, ask for a referral to a specialist, like a urologist. And if that doesn’t work, it may be time to find a new doctor. After all, your doctor is supposed to have your best interest at heart. If they don’t take you seriously when you bring something up, that’s not someone you want to be entrusting your health with.
(Looking for a new doctor? Use NAFC’s Doctor Finder to find an incontinence specialist near you.)
Success! You found the courage to speak up, did your research, pressed your doctor for a solution and now you’re starting treatment. 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 success of your treatment plan.
Before you even leave your doctor’s office, schedule a follow-up appointment for some point in the future (your doctor can help you decide when) to evaluate how you’re doing on the treatment you’ve selected, and how it’s working so far.
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! Drier days are just around the corner!
Need some more help? Download a FREE support and information packet here! It’s filled with ways to help you prepare for your appointment, education about your condition, bladder diaries to help you track leaks, and tips you can incorporate even before you see your doctor.