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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

Your doctor will ask several questions to determine the cause of your bladder problems and find the right treatment.

  • How often do you urinate each day?
  • How much liquid do you drink each day (with meals and between meals)?
  • Do you leak urine? Do you leak urine when you sneeze, cough, or exercise?
  • Do you feel an urge when you have to urinate or have a sudden urge to urinate at inappropriate times? Do you have to rush to the toilet and sometimes not make it?
  • How many times do you get up at night to use the toilet?
  • Does it ever hurt or burn when you urinate? Does your urine have a bad odor, contain blood, or appear dark yellow or concentrated?
  • If you wear pads, are there a few drops of urine in the pad or a bladder-full?
  • Does your incontinence prevent you from participating in work or social activities?
  • How often do you have a bowel movement? What’s the consistency of your stools? Are they easy or hard to pass?

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.

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