Dr. Cornella provides advice for women who are embarrassed to talk about urinary incontinence symptoms with their doctors.
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Talking About Urinary Incontinence With Your Doctor There are many patients who have urinary incontinence and they will not seek help. In fact, some estimates show that that may approach 50%, but this is a very common condition. Eventually, up to 30% of women may have urinary incontinence if they live into their 80s and 90s, and we know that over 50% of patients in nursing homes may have urinary incontinence and it’s responsible for about six to ten percent of admissions. So, it’s a very common issue. Physicians are very aware of this. There should be nothing embarrassing about going to a physician and describing the issue. They have heard it thousands of times and they will refer you to somebody who has familiarity with the issue and is able to help you manage the issue and make improvements. If a patient has a urinary incontinence problem, she should see a specialist who is familiar with these issues in women. That would be urogynecologist or pelvic reconstructive surgeon, maybe urologist in some situations, if they are cognizant of issues in women. The patient would benefit from seeing people who have a lot of experience in terms of management of incontinence because one of our goals is not to worsen the problem. We want to make things better and if one does not have enough experience, they may prescribe either medications or surgical procedures, which in the end run may have more long-term consequences that are not beneficial to the patient. So, just like everything, familiarity with the issue, experience is very important in terms of management.