How do I find out if I have urinary incontinence?

The first step is to see your doctor. If your doctor doesn’t treat bladder problems, ask for help finding someone who does.Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and take a medical history. Your doctor will ask you:

  • how often you empty your bladder
  • how and when you leak urine
  • how much urine you leak

Your doctor will do a physical exam to look for signs of health problems that can cause incontinence. Your doctor also will do a test to figure out how well your bladder works and how much it can hold. For this test, you will drink water and urinate into a measuring pan, after which your doctor will measure any urine still in the bladder. Your doctor also may order one or more of the following other tests:

  • Stress test — while you cough or bear down, the doctor watches for loss of urine.
  • Urinalysis — you give a urine sample, which is tested for signs of infection and other causes of incontinence.
  • Blood test — you give a blood sample, which is sent to a lab where it is tested for signs of other causes of incontinence.
  • Ultrasound — sound waves are used to take a picture of the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Your doctor will look to see if there are any problems in these areas that could cause incontinence.
  • Cystoscopy — a thin tube with a tiny camera is placed in the urethra to view the inside of the urethra and bladder.
  • Urodynamics — a thin tube is placed into your bladder and your bladder is filled with water. Your doctor measures the pressure in the bladder.

Your doctor may ask you to write down when you empty your bladder and how much urine you produce for a day or a week.