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Tests for Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence

October 15, 2013 2 min read

    I’ve been having trouble controlling my bladder lately. I’m going to the doctor’s next week, and was wondering what kind of tests they’ll do to determine whether or not I have urinary incontinence.

Urinary incontinence is a symptom of an underlying cause. In most cases, it can be treated. Many people with incontinence wait years until they see a doctor, so it’s great to hear that you are seeking help.

During your appointment, you will be asked about your medical history (ie. surgeries, medication and illnesses) and any symptoms relating to urinary problems. You may be asked to fill out a bladder journal, which can help your doctor find patterns in your voiding habits. Your doctor will most likely perform a physical examination and take a urine sample.

Several tests are used to diagnose urinary incontinence. These include:

  • Bladder stress test – You will be asked to cough several times to see if any urine leakage occurs. This method is often used to diagnose stress incontinence.
  • Urodynamic testing – Urodynamic testing focuses on how well you can empty your bladder and whether or not there are abnormal bladder contractions that contribute to urinary leakage. In this process, your bladder is filled with water and then emptied while pressure readings are taken. This can be slightly uncomfortable since some tests involve catheter insertions. Urodynamic tests are especially useful when considering surgery as treatment.
  • Cystoscopy – This is where a small camera is inserted into your urethra, allowing your doctor to take a closer look at any abnormalities or infections in your urinary tract.

It’s important to be very honest and thorough when communicating to your doctor about your urinary concerns. Incontinence can be embarrassing, but it’s no reason not to discuss with your doctor. After he/she finds out the cause of your bladder control problems, a treatment plan can be established. Good luck!


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