If you've been following my SharePosts for a while, you've come to understand that I constantly preach "see your doctor, see your doctor". The next logical question is: What doctor do I see?
Seeing Your Primary Care Physician about Incontinence
There are many different doctors who you can speak with about incontinence. I usually recommend that you start by mentioning the leakage to whoever is your primary care physician (or physician's assistant or nurse practitioner). If this doctor shows an interest in your condition by asking follow-up questions, taking your concerns seriously, and showing a desire to help you find treatment, then he or she will help you get the adequate testing and diagnosis that you need, and may refer you to a specialist. If, however, your health care professional doesn't seem interested in treating incontinence, seems to "brush you off", or tells you that it's something you "just need to live with", then you may want to seek another opinion.
Seeing a Specialist about Incontinence
In some cases, you may want to go directly to a specialist, either because you don't feel comfortable discussing incontinence with your primary care provider or you'd like to get another opinion. There are several specialists who, because of their field of study, may be more likely to take an avid interest in incontinence. These specialists include urologists, urogynecologists, geriatricians, gastroenterologists, and in some cases colorectal surgeons. Please keep in mind that there are many subspecialties within each of these specialties, so not every practitioner is going to be passionate about incontinence. In fact, you might want to specifically ask when calling a new doctor's office if they are "interested in and knowledgeable about incontinence".
Urologists and Incontinence
Urologists are generally thought of as doctors for men's urology, but they will in fact treat both men and women with urological issues, including urinary incontinence.
Urogynecologists and Incontinence
Urogynecologists are gynecologists who focus on the lower urinary tract, and in many cases they are the perfect person for women with urinary incontinence to see.
Geriatricians and Incontinence
Geriatricians are internists who specialize in the nuances of the aging body. Geriatricians are often a good option for elderly individuals with incontinence, as there are differences in the bladder as the body ages.
Gastroenterologists and Incontinence
Gastroenterologists treat disorders of the digestive system. Men and women experiencing fecal incontinence may wish to visit a gastroenterologist.
Colorectal surgeons perform surgery on the colon and/or rectum. Men and women with fecal incontinence requiring a surgical treatment may wish to see a colorectal surgeon.
So now that you've figured out who to talk to about incontinence, the question is how do you talk to them. Next time I'll write about how to broach this embarrassing topic, and questions to be prepared for in that initial office visit.