The first step in solving a urinary problem is to talk with your doctor or nurse. He or she should ask you about your general medical history, including any major illnesses or surgeries. You should talk about the medicines you take, both prescription and nonprescription, because they might be part of the problem. You should talk about how much fluid you drink a day and whether you use alcohol or caffeine. Give as many details as you can about the problem and when it started. The doctor or nurse may ask you to keep a voiding diary, which is a record of fluid intake and trips to the bathroom, plus any episodes of leakage.
If leakage is the problem, the doctor or nurse may ask you to do a pad test. This test is a simple way to measure how much urine leaks out. You will be given a number of absorbent pads and plastic bags of a standard weight. You will be told to wear the pad for 1 or 2 hours while in the clinic or to wear a series of pads at home during a specific period of time. The pads are collected and sealed in a plastic bag. Your health care team will then weigh the bags to see how much urine has been caught in the pad. A simpler but less precise method is to change pads as often as you need to and keep track of how many pads you use in a day.
A physical exam will also be performed to rule out other causes of urinary problems. This exam usually includes an assessment of the nerves in the lower part of your body. It will also include a pelvic exam in women to assess the pelvic muscles and the other pelvic organs. Your doctor will also want to check your urine for evidence of infection or blood.