Urinary incontinence can be a complicated diagnosis because the cause sometimes cannot be fully identified. Your doctor will first ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. This includes an evaluation of the urinary and nervous systems, which controls bladder function. You will be asked how often you empty your bladder and under what circumstances leakage occurs. A physical exam will look for any physical causes such as blockages or nerve problems. You will be asked to keep a diary of your bladder habits. At some point you will most likely be referred to a urologist or a gynecologist for further evaluation and treatment.
Tests may include:
Because more than one cause can exist, each one must be systematically considered. Your doctor may order the following tests:
Kasper D, Harrison T. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.
Urinary incontinence. National Association for Continence website. Available at: http://www.nafc.org/urinary-incontinence. Accessed December 29, 2015.
Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900624/Urinary-...ontinence-in-men. Updated July 22, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900573/Urinary-in...tinence-in-women. Updated August 15, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.