Thorough Medical History Helps Diagnosis

Published Online: Tuesday, March 1, 2005

A medical history is a crucial part of the examination for urinary incontinence in men. During the medical history, a health professional will ask the patient to describe:

  • How long the incontinence has lasted
  • What, if anything, the individual is doing when incontinence happens (eg, laughing, coughing, or changing posture)
  • Risk factors such as chronic bladder infections that may lead to incontinence
  • Bowel habits to determine whether chronic constipation may be contributing to incontinence
  • Prescription and OTC medications being taken
  • Treatments for previous problems affecting the urinary tract
  • Use of pads or other protective devices to control urine loss

The health professional will also inquire about the patient's general health, and will ask specific questions about the individual's urinary and reproductive tracts, intestines, and nervous system to find possible clues about the cause of the incontinence. The patients will also have a physical exam that includes a comprehensive abdominal, rectal, and genital examination. The health professional is looking for growths such as tumors in the pelvic area, checking for an enlarged prostate or reduced anal muscle tone, and checking to determine whether a nervous system problem is causing muscle weakness or loss of reflexes.

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