Your Bladder Health: Tips for Talking with Your Healthcare Provider

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

The following article is brought to you by our October sponsor, VESIcare® (solifenacin succinate) tablets.

Going to the doctor is not always a pleasant experience—the long wait, the flimsy gowns, the poking and prodding. Now imagine going to the doctor to talk about an embarrassing problem like frequent urination or occasional wetting accidents. It may sound daunting, but for women who experience bladder problems like these, a visit to their healthcare provider may actually be a liberating and critical first step in addressing their problems head on.

About 17 percent of women in the U.S. have a chronic condition called overactive bladder. These women experience some combination of urgency (an overwhelming need to go to the bathroom right away), frequency (the need to go to the bathroom more than eight times in a 24-hour period), and urge incontinence (a sudden and urgent need to go to the bathroom, followed by leakage). Aside from being somewhat disruptive, overactive bladder can be upsetting and embarrassing, which is perhaps why as many as 40 percent of people who experience overactive bladder symptoms do not mention them to their doctor.

Instead, people with overactive bladder often make excuses for their symptoms, like “it’s just a normal part of aging.” Or, they employ coping mechanisms like carrying a change of clothing or skipping activities when there’s no bathroom nearby. But women should know that OAB is a treatable condition—and these symptoms are not normal at any age.

If you’re experiencing bladder symptoms, try these tips to help ensure a more comfortable and productive conversation with your healthcare provider:

  1. Fill out this bladder symptoms checklist to identify how your bladder issues may impact you. Print the results to share with your healthcare provider, who can speak with you to determine if you have overactive bladder.
  2. Monitor your bladder habits for a period of three days in a row using a downloadable bladder tracker. You simply complete one page each day, keeping it with you during the course of the day so you can record information immediately. The tracker will help you and your doctor better understand your symptoms.
  3. Jot down your questions beforehand. Once you’re sitting in the exam room, it’s easy to forget something that you had intended to ask. Bring a notebook with questions which could include:
    • What might be causing my symptoms?
    • What are my treatment options? What are the pros and cons of each?
    • What kind of results should I expect from treatment?
  4. Be honest with your healthcare provider—and yourself. Providing an accurate description of your symptoms—no matter how embarrassing—can help him or her assess the situation and come up with the best course of action.
  5. Talk about treatment options and develop a plan that’s right for you. Treatment options for overactive bladder range from behavioral changes (such as bladder training which involves going to the bathroom at regular times, or Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles) to prescription medications and in some extreme cases, surgery. An effective treatment regimen often includes a combination of both behavioral changes and pharmacological therapies, like VESIcare, an oral, once-daily treatment. VESIcare can help decrease the sudden and overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom, and can help reduce the number of bathroom trips you’ll need to make throughout the day, and lessen the chances that you’ll leak.

Remember, effective management of overactive bladder begins with open communication with your healthcare provider. As a healthcare professional, there’s nothing he or she hasn’t heard before. Visit The Ladies’ Room: All About Overactive Bladder or to learn more about overactive bladder and to prepare for your next appointment.

Important Safety Information

VESIcare is for urgency, frequency and leakage (overactive bladder). VESIcare is not for everyone. If you have certain stomach or glaucoma problems, or trouble emptying your bladder, do not take VESIcare. Tell your doctor right away if you have a serious allergic reaction, severe abdominal pain, or become constipated for three or more days. VESIcare may cause blurred vision, so take care while driving or doing unsafe tasks until you know how VESIcare affects you. Common side effects are dry mouth, constipation, and indigestion.

For complete Prescribing Information for VESIcare, click here.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

The information provided in this article is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment of a specific medical condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your conditions.

Editorial review for this article provided by Astellas Pharma US, Inc. and The GlaxoSmithKline Group of Companies.

With the exception of this article, Astellas and GlaxoSmithKline are not responsible for the contents of this newsletter.

VESIcare is a registered trademark of Astellas Pharma US, Inc.