Seeking treatment - don't let embarassment get in the way
Many people, men and women, live with incontinence, but studies show most people live in silence. That’s the worst thing to do, because talking about it openly, especially with a doctor or health care practitioner, can help lighten the load of incontinence.
Studies estimate between 20-40% of people living with incontinence are too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone, even their spouse or their doctor. In addition, on average, people live with incontinence for seven years before seeking help or treatment. That’s a shame, because the earlier the issue is addressed, the easier it is to do something about it.
If you have problems with bladder and/or bowel) control, always consult with a doctor or trusted health care giver. They can give you invaluable advice and help you get back on the road to your regular active life. Read on to find out to prepare if you’re one of the many who is hesitant to go to the doctor.
Why to seek help
If you are one of the many for whom seeking help is an obstacle to overcome, the first step is to consider why you are avoiding addressing the issue, and consider if incontinence is starting to interfere with being able to live a normal active life. While many people let incontinence rule their life, most people have no reason to.
Perhaps incontinence is causing you to avoid certain situations, making you withdraw from social interactions, or putting restrictions on physical activities. Maybe the fear of leaking means you avoid wearing certain clothing or activities you enjoy. Maybe you are doing laundry a lot more often, or spending a lot of money on incontinence products when you don’t know if they are right for your needs.
If, in addition to leakage, you have other risk factors, such as problems with balance or vision, you’re also at an increased risk of falling if you often have to rush to make it to the bathroom on time.
The earlier you seek help, the easier it is to do something about that occasional leak before it gets worse.
How to prepare
The doctor will probably ask about your medical history, so it’s good to be prepared to be able to answer the following questions:
- History of pregnancy and childbirth
- Any history of surgeries, illness and medical procedures
- List of medications you take, including anything you take over-the counter, vitamins, supplements etc, as these may all affect bladder health and bladder muscles.
- Any health problems you may be experiencing
- General lifestyle, diet, etc.
For some people, it can be powerful and important to take charge of the conversation by being prepared, and in addition it is very useful for the doctor to know the details about your condition as early as possible. So if possible, take note of the following questions regarding bladder heath and urination patterns:
- General toilet habits
- Diet – including what and how much you drink
- Nighttime visits to the bathroom
- Record your flow of urine in different situations
- Record accidents and leaks – what causes them and when do they occur.
At the doctor
If you are nervous about what will happen at the doctor, preparation may help. These are a few of the things that will probably take place. Depending on the type of incontinence and how specialized your doctor is, the doctor may:
- Ask you to keep a urination journal for while. In a urination journal, you record when you urinate, what you drink, how it feels, the flow of urine, and other details about your urination patterns.
- Do a physical examination.
- Encourage bladder training. In bladder training, you use different techniques to postpone visits to the toilet to train the bladder to hold in the urine.
- Refer you a specialist in urinary disorders or bladder health - such as a geriatrician, a urologist, or urogynecologist.
The doctor can help
- Determine the type and cause of incontinence
- Check for any potential underlying causes for the leakage, such as certain illnesses or medications
- Advice and guidance on products to use
- Advice and guidance on diet, exercise and pelvic floor exercises
- Depending on where you live, write prescriptions for products or referrals to physical therapists or specialists who know how to address your specific problems.