HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT INCONTINENCE
Talking to your doctor is the first step in treating a bladder or bowel control problem. Use our bladder diary or bowel diary to help aid your discussion.
TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR
One of the keys to success in treatment for bladder or bowel control problems is to first get accurately diagnosed. Your input is vital. You know your body, your routines, and you can identify changes in how you feel better than anyone else. You must speak up. There is no such thing as a detail too small to mention.
Because there are so many different types of incontinence, and therefore, so many different contributing factors, details help distinguish one form from another. This allows your physician to develop the proper prognosis.
Case in point, the NAFC conducted a survey of more than a thousand women ages 18 and older and discovered that 20% of women with symptoms exclusively associated with stress urinary incontinence reported they had been prescribed medication. We know that this was the incorrect treatment because there is no FDA-approved drug for SUI available in the United States. So how did this happen? Most likely, the physician was acting on inaccurate or incomplete information from the patient describing her symptoms.
So take charge of the conversation with your doctor. Don’t wait until the last minute to bring up the subject. Come prepared. Have as much information gathered as you can. Share your bladder diary or bowel diary with your physician or nurse. It should contain such important information as:
- Recorded toilet habits over a 2 day period
- A list of everything you ate and drank
- Any nighttime trips to the bathroom? How many?
- Note the strength of urine flow
- Any accidents? What happened to cause them?
If you’re not sure where to start, use the NAFC template to help you keep track of times and events. Print it from our web site and get started. This document will serve as the basis for your discussion about your experiences. You might discover more than one set of symptoms and thus face multiple solutions. The point is to create a record of all the symptoms in a context that will be helpful to your doctor in reaching a diagnosis.
By keeping a bladder or bowel diary, you are not only educating and informing yourself, you are assuming responsibility for playing a role in getting diagnosed correctly. This includes understanding your own anatomy so you can describe what’s happening. This will also help you discern between what is normal and what is abnormal. The more you know will also help downstream as you will be able to ask meaningful questions about your treatment, understanding the risks and possible effects from medicine or surgery.
Most importantly, it puts you right in the middle of the conversation. After all, this is your body, your life. Ultimately the treatment will only be as successful as you make it. So get in the know!
Not sure if you might have a medical problem with bladder or bowel control? Take our ONLINE QUIZ to get pointed in the right direction.