From our friends at American Urogynecologic Society:
|5 Ways to Talk to Your Doctor About “Down There” During National Bladder Health Month|
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) affects more than 15 million adult women and is the most prevalent form of incontinence among women. SUI can be characterized as a woman having an involuntary loss of urine, or bladder leakage, that occurs during physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. Many women brush off the symptoms because they are scared or embarrassed and in turn, live in pain or mask the uncomfortable side effects. It’s important for every woman to know the symptoms of SUI and to know they don’t have to suffer in silence.
Fortunately for the millions of women who suffer from SUI, there are numerous treatments depending on the severity. Options range from nonsurgical treatments like pelvic floor training or surgical procedures such as sling or suspension. The treatment approach is individualized to tailor to each woman’s symptoms and lifestyle.
National Bladder Health Month takes place in November, so it’s the perfect time to learn more about SUI, the treatment options available, and how to start the conversation with your doctor today. If you’re having any reservations about starting this conversation, know that you are not alone—approximately 1 out of 3 women experience pelvic floor disorders and nearly 200,000 women choose surgery to treat their SUI each year, including the sling procedure.
Now is the time to take charge of your bladder health. Follow these five steps to start the conversation about SUI with your doctor and to get the best care for your individual needs:
- Recognize the symptoms. If you experience loss of urine that occurs simultaneously with activities that increase abdominal pressure, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising, you might be suffering from SUI.
- Start the conversation. Talk to your primary care physician if you experience these symptoms and ask him or her to refer you to a specialist called a urogynecologist or a pelvic health physical therapist, if necessary. Voices for PFD created this useful tool to assist you with initiating the conversation with your physician.
- Come prepared. Bring your medical records, especially any prior evaluation and treatment for pelvic floor disorders (PFDs), and most importantly any surgical reports.
- Determine your treatment plan. There are many treatment options available for SUI and each one is unique to your particular symptoms and lifestyle. Talk to your doctor about the treatment option that is right for you.
- Keep a bladder diary. At the beginning of treatment, these diaries are helpful in establishing the severity of your problem. Download the Voices for PFD mobile app or visit voicesforpfd.org for more information and an easy way to monitor your bladder control problems.