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Tips on taking the first step

Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk to their GP (doctor), or any other health professional, about bladder and bowel weakness, but remember that you are not alone, and health professionals are used to dealing with these sorts of issues.

Talking to your GP is a good starting point to begin seeking help for a continence issue.  If you are making an appointment with your GP, remember to 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 advisor or continence and women's health or pelvic floor physiotherapist, their initial consultation is normally longer to provide time to assess and diagnosis the problem. You can get the details of these professionals by contacting the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

To prepare for an appointment, 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, and
  • a list of your current medications.

You may also like to jot 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.