We women tend to avoid talking to our doctors about LBL, especially when it first begins. Maybe it’s because we’re embarrassed, or hopeful that it will just go away. Medical professionals can be a tremendous help in reducing or eliminating leaks. Even so, sometimes when women muster up the courage to ask a doctor about it, they feel dismissed, and confused about what to do next.
Specialists are experienced at helping women feel comfortable when talking about LBL. However, your first conversation may not be with a specialist. More likely you’ll be talking with your general practitioner. I reached out to Urogynecologist Robert A. Starr, MD, Professor and Chairman of Urology at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan for advice. He offered two important steps for making your first conversation about LBL as productive as possible.
Step 1: Make a separate appointment to talk about LBL. Don’t go to the doctor for other medical issues and then at the end of the visit say, "I've been having a bit of light bladder leakage." A passing comment at the end of an appointment probably won't result in the time and attention you need. Make an appointment specifically to talk about your bladder leakage concerns.
Step 2: Be very clear about what’s happening, and what kind of impact it's having on you. Let your clinician know if you're primarily experiencing a feeling of urgency to go or leaks that happen when you exercise, cough, or sneeze. The treatments are completely different. If you have a mix of symptoms, share that too. For example, you might say, “Leaking with a big sneeze is rare, but getting up many times at night with a strong urge to go to the bathroom is my main problem.” Every woman’s body is different. These two steps will make it easier for your doctor to understand and help find solutions that will work best for you.
PT for LBL As you explore treatment options, consider physical therapy (PT) for your pelvic floor as it can help with all types of leaks. “It’s silly for someone to tell you to go home and do Kegels (an exercise that reduces leaks by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles) because most women don’t know where those muscles are, or how to contract them,” said Dr. Starr, “Pelvic floor physical therapists help you learn proper pelvic health and use a variety of different exercises that strengthen your core and pelvic floor.” Not all general practitioners are familiar with PT for LBL. Dr. Starr believes every woman should be empowered to ask her doctor about pelvic floor physical therapy when exploring ways to reduce or eliminate leakage.
How about you? Have you talked with a medical professional about LBL? If so, how did it go?