My doctor told me I have incontinence... now what?

"You have urinary incontinence."

Hearing these words from your doctor can bring out all kinds of feelings and questions. You may be feeling embarrassed, angry, afraid, and alone. You may also have questions about incontinence, how it will affect your work and social life, and where to go for help.

It may help to know that you're not alone: over 3 million Canadians of all ages have incontinence. But you may feel alone because most people are too embarrassed to talk about it - only 26% of people with incontinence ask their doctor for help. So congratulate yourself on having the courage to speak up! By talking to your doctor and getting a diagnosis, you're on the road to taking control of your incontinence.

Here are a few "next steps" to help you cope with your diagnosis and get your life back.

Educate yourself. Learn all you can about urinary incontinence and the management options available to you.

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions for people newly diagnosed with urinary incontinence:

  • Can it be treated? Yes. There are many treatments available to help manage your incontinence so that you can get on with your life.
  • Will everybody know? No. With the new discreet treatment and management options available, no one will know about your incontinence unless you decide to tell them.
  • Is this the end of my social life? Definitely not! You can still enjoy an active social life. Just be prepared: follow your treatment plan, consider using absorbent products for leakage protection, and have an emergency kit (containing extra clothes and absorbent products) to deal with leaks.
  • How will this affect my relationship with my partner? Your relationship could become stronger than ever as you work together to cope with incontinence. The first step is to share your feelings and concerns with your partner.
  • Will it be an issue at work? With a proper management plan, it shouldn't be. As with social occasions, it's all a matter of being prepared.
  • Where can I get help? Talk to your doctor about available support groups and consider confiding in trusted friends and family so they can offer their support.

Talk to your doctor about your treatment plan. Discuss your treatment and management options with your doctor and work with your doctor to choose a treatment plan that will work for your lifestyle.

Get back to your usual activities. When you first found out you had urinary incontinence, you may have scaled back on your social life and physical activities. But incontinence shouldn't get in the way of the things you enjoy. Once you have a treatment plan in place, you can go back to your usual activities.

Find support. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend about what you're going through. You can also join an incontinence support group or online community.

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