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Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence

Diagnosing urinary incontinence can be hard. This is because the cause cannot always be found. The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will also be done. This will involve checking the urinary and nervous systems to see how the bladder is working. The doctor may also do a rectal or pelvic exam to look for blockages or nerve problems.

The doctor will ask how often a person empties their bladder. A diary of bladder habits may need to be kept to help the doctor learn when and how leakage happens. A visit to a specialist for more testing and treatment may be needed.


  • Diagnosis of bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/diagnosis.
  • Urinary incontinence in adults. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/voiding-disorders/urinary-incontinence-in-adults.
  • Urinary incontinence in men. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/urinary-incontinence-in-men-25.
  • Urinary incontinence in women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/condition/urinary-incontinence-in-women.


  • Nicole S. Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.