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Talking to your doctor about incontinence

When you first experience the symptoms of incontinence, it may seem daunting to talk about it with your GP. But, you don’t need to worry. Incontinence is more common than you might think and affects women and men of all ages. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and you’ll feel much better when you discuss it with someone who can help.

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Be open with your doctor

Don't be embarrassed about discussing incontinence with a medical professional. Your doctor will be able to provide a diagnosis, offer support and give advice on how you can continue living your life to its fullest.

We asked TV’s Dr Sara Kayat to share her advice on how to discuss incontinence with your doctor.

How should I describe incontinence?

Some people find it easier to refer to incontinence as "bladder sensitivity" or issues with "bladder control”. Find a way that's comfortable for you to express what you are experiencing and open the conversation with your doctor.

Don’t be concerned about offending or surprising your GP. They will be familiar with all symptoms and terminology.

Image of Sara Kayat smiling in a depend tshirt

What type of incontinence do I have?

Once your doctor has confirmed that your symptoms are incontinence, it’s important to determine what type you have.

The most common types are stress incontinence (leakage when your bladder has pressure on it, like when you cough, sneeze or laugh) and urge incontinence (when you have an intense urge to pass urine and suddenly leak). Some people have a mix of both.

Knowing which type of incontinence you’re experiencing will allow your doctor to look into underlying causes and move closer to treating it.

How to manage your incontinence

Once you understand your condition, it’s important to start discussing how to manage it.

Firstly, it will be useful to ask your doctor about the different incontinence products available to you, including incontinence pants like Depend® Active-Fit. These products will allow you to continue living an active life, whilst feeling confident and protected.

The next important thing to ask is whether there are any lifestyle changes that you can make to help with your symptoms. For example, we know that alcohol and caffeine are both common triggers for incontinence so could you reduce your intake?

If lifestyle changes don’t help, you may want to discuss medication and whether a referral to a specialist could help, perhaps by strengthening your pelvic floor through exercises like rebounding, or through surgical management.

How do I tell my loved ones?

If you are worried about how to talk about incontinence with a loved one, or you’re not sure you’ve taken all the information in, you can ask your GP to give you an information leaflet to take home with you. The Depend website is also full of useful information about the condition, so you can feel fully informed.

How your GP can help with incontinence

GPs are there to offer help and support with your health, and can help you manage conditions like incontinence. There are plenty of ways they can offer advice on managing and treating the condition, so book an appointment to see how they can help to find the right solution for your needs.

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