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Women: Talking to your doctor about bladder control

Loss of bladder control is a common problem, but it's never normal.

You may be embarrassed—or even afraid—to talk to your doctor about bladder control. Rest assured that incontinence is quite common and usually improves with treatment. But you can't get help unless you ask for it.

Common causes of bladder control problems

  • Weakened pelvic muscles caused by pregnancy, aging, childbirth or menopause.
  • Urinary tract or vaginal infection.
  • Constipation.
  • Bladder nerve damage caused by an injury, stroke or diseases such diabetes, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
  • Prostatitis or enlarged prostate.
  • Excess weight.
  • Medications.

Lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages; eating foods that cause constipation; a lack of physical activity; and smoking can raise the chances of developing urinary incontinence. 

Things your doctor needs to know

It will help your doctor if you can offer this information:

  • Prescription medicines you take.
  • Over-the-counter medicine you take.
  • How long you have had bladder problems.
  • Any pregnancies you have had.
  • Whether you still have periods.
  • If you have had any recent surgery.
  • Whether you have recently been ill or injured.
  • Whether you have recently had a bladder infection.
  • Whether you are frequently constipated.

Remember that there is no need to be embarrassed about this common problem, and that speaking up will help your doctor find a solution.

reviewed 11/8/2019

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