Tips on taking the first step
Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their doctor or any other health professional about bladder and bowel problems. It is important to remember that you are not alone and health professionals are used to dealing with these sorts of issues.
Talking to your doctor is a good starting point to begin seeking help for a continence issue. When making an appointment ask for a long consultation to give you time to explain the problem without feeling rushed.
If you wish to see another health professional such as a continence nurse specialist or women's, men's and pelvic health physiotherapist, the first consultation is normally longer to provide time to assess and diagnose the problem.
Preparing for a consultation
To prepare for an consultation, write down as much information as possible to help you describe the problem. For example:
- your symptoms
- how often they occur
- specific times of the day (day or night) or activities (exercise, laughing, coughing) that seem to bring them on
- food or drinks that cause or worsen your symptoms
- a list of your current medications.
You may also like to write down a few questions. Examples of questions you may want to ask include:
- what is causing the incontinence?
- do I need to be examined or undergo any tests?
- can it be treated and cured?
- what are the treatment options available to me?
- what are the risks associated with these treatment options?
- should I see someone who specialises in this area?
- are there products I can use to manage my symptoms whilst I am being treated?
- am I eligible to receive any financial subsidies to offset the costs of continence products?
If you have any questions or would like further information and advice, contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66. The National Continence Helpline is staffed by continence nurse specialists who offer free and confidential information, advice and support. They also provide a wide range of continence-related resources and referrals to local services.