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Incontinence FAQs (cont.)

What will my doctor do?

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, health history, and personal habits.

Your doctor will do a physical exam, possibly including a vaginal and pelvic exam in women and a genital and rectal exam in men.

Your doctor will ask for a urine sample to test for infection and other abnormalities. Your doctor may also take a blood sample to rule out other medical conditions.

Your doctor may ask you to keep a urination or voiding diary.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist such as a urologist for further management of your situation.

What tests are used to diagnose incontinence?

A wide variety of diagnostic tests are used, depending on the type or symptoms of incontinence. Some examples of diagnostic tests include the following:

  • Measurement of the post void residual. For overflow incontinence, this test checks how much urine remains in the bladder after urination. The test can be done by inserting a catheter into the bladder after urination to see how much urine remained in the bladder or by using an ultrasound image to calculate how much urine remained in the bladder.
  • Cotton swab test. This test detects hypermobility of the urethra, which is common in women with stress incontinence. The test is performed by inserting a well-lubricated, sterile, cotton-tipped applicator into the urethra and bladder neck.
  • Cystoscopy. This diagnostic tool allows your doctor to view the inside of your bladder by inserting a small tube with a camera into the urethra and into the bladder.
  • Urodynamic tests. Sometimes called an ECG of the bladder, these tests are used to determine how well the bladder and sphincter muscles work. These tests are typically done in a series and can determine if your bladder fills and empties completely. They can also show if the sensation of fullness corresponds to the bladder actually being full.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2017
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