People who have talked with their doctors about bladder control problems report that they are much more likely than their doctors to have initiated the discussion.1
If you've ever been told to "just live with it" or "it's a normal part of aging," you know how frustrating it can be when you try to get help for your bladder control problems. Talk honestly with your doctor how bothersome your symptoms have become and how much they interfere with your everyday freedom.
Before your appointment, it's helpful to track your urinary symptoms and rate how your symptoms are affecting your life, so you can discuss your situation with your doctor.
If your doctor is unwilling or unable to offer you further treatment options, ask for a referral or seek out another doctor who is a specialist: a urogynecologist, urologist, or gynecologist. Some of these doctors specialize further in treating bladder control problems. Or, find a doctor in your area who is familiar with InterStim Therapy.
Remember that the most important thing is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with and can communicate with. A doctor may have impressive academic credentials, but if he or she doesn't listen or take your concerns seriously, he or she may not be the right doctor for you.
During your scheduled appointment, talk with your doctor about your condition, the treatment options available to you, and the pros and cons of each. If your doctor is not familiar with the range of treatments for bladder control, ask for a referral to a specialist: a urogynecologist, urologist, or gynecologist. Or, find a doctor who is experienced in InterStim Therapy.
The following questions may be helpful in guiding your discussion about treatment options:
If your doctor doesn't bring it up during your discussion of treatment options, ask if he or she has heard of InterStim Therapy (also know as sacral nerve stimulation). If the answer is "yes," ask if he or she thinks you would be a candidate, and why.
If your doctor is not familiar with InterStim Therapy, you can find a doctor in your area who is experienced in InterStim Therapy. To be included in this database, doctors must be fully trained in InterStim Therapy and have treated at least 4 patients with InterStim Therapy in the past 12 months.
Medtronic provides this listing as a service. We have no vested interest in any specific physicians, nor do we provide any recommendation, assurance, or guarantee with respect to their service.
To start the conversation, it's helpful to track your symptoms and rate how your urinary symptoms are affecting your life.
Here's an example of how someone who suffers from overactive bladder might open a conversation with her doctor:
"Doctor, I need to tell you how much my bladder control problems are bothering me and getting in the way of my life. I've used this symptom tracker help you understand what my life has been like. I'm going to the bathroom more than 20 times a day, I haven't gotten an uninterrupted night's sleep in years, and I'm exhausted. I experience leaks several times a week, and I can't go anywhere without a change of clothes. I'm really concerned that the rest of my life will be like this and I'm too young to live like this. We've tried changing my fluid intake, biofeedback, and two medications, but I just can't tolerate the dry mouth side effect. What other options can you tell me about? Are you familiar with InterStim Therapy?"
Medtronic InterStim Therapy has been FDA approved since 1997, but the therapy has evolved since that time. Doctors who heard about it then might not be familiar with the advances in InterStim Therapy. For example, the procedure is now minimally invasive, and the neurostimulator is now smaller. A doctor familiar with the earlier, more invasive version of the therapy might not feel comfortable offering it as an option to anyone but the patient with the most severe symptoms.
Some doctors prefer to wait a few years to adopt new treatments until they see clinical evidence of longer-term results. InterStim Therapy now has clinical study data showing safety and efficacy at 5 years.2