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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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OAB Questions For and From Your Doctor

Questions Your Doctor Will Ask You continued...

Doctors ask about bowel movements because constipation can put pressure on the bladder.

Also, “patients with bowel problems often have urinary problems and vice versa,” Griebling says. Nerves that control the bladder also control the sigmoid colon, and some patients leak both urine and stool, he says.

Amy Rosenman, MD, a urogynecologist in Santa Monica, Calif., and a clinical assistant professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, also asks her female patients when they had their last bladder infection “because that can cause urgency and frequency,” she says.  

Your doctor can rule out problems that can cause overactive bladder symptoms. “There are many things that cause the bladder to behave badly,” Rosenman says.  

Even if your doctor hasn't found the cause of your overactive bladder, he or she can still treat the symptoms. Usually, the first treatment is with medications, which are often effective. “But if that doesn’t work, then we want [patients] to know that that’s not the end,” she says.

Don’t hesitate to seek out a specialist if you haven't been able to get your symptoms under good control, Rosenman says. Not all doctors are well-versed in the multitude of treatment options, such as biofeedback or electrical nerve stimulation, she says.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

You can also take part in educating yourself and making decisions. Here are some questions to ask your doctor:

  • What might be causing my overactive bladder?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Do I need medication? Why?
  • Does the medication have side effects?
  • Are there any special instructions I should follow when using my treatment?
  • How soon should my symptoms improve?
  • What other treatments or products that I haven't already tried might help me? (For example, absorbent pads, bladder training, Kegel or pelvic floor exercises, exercises, biofeedback, surgery, or sacral nerve stimulation)
  • What other steps can I take (for example, dietary changes) to cope with overactive bladder in my daily life?

Testing and Surgery

If your doctor recommends any testing, make sure that you understand the reasons:

  • What will this test show?
  • How accurate is it?
  • How will it affect my treatment?
  • Are there any risks or side effects?
  • Do I need to do anything special before or after the test?

If you have a severe case of overactive bladder that hasn't responded to non-surgical treatments, your doctor might recommend surgery. If so, ask the following:

  • What are the risks and benefits of surgery?
  • How much improvement can I expect? When will I start to see improvements?
  • Will I be hospitalized? How long is the recovery time?
  • Can you refer me to another physician for a second opinion?
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Reviewed on August 06, 2013

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