Many embarrassed about bladder control problems try to cope on their own, by wearing absorbent pads, carrying extra clothes, restricting fluid intake, dodging intimacy or even avoiding going out.

Knowing that you are not alone suffering from incontinence, and that myriad treatment options exist to effectively handle it, should offer some comfort and encouragement to seek help. Indeed, 25 to 33 percent of men and women in the U.S. suffer from urinary incontinence.

Take the first step

A good start is to ask your primary care doctor or general practitioner for help. Urologists specialize in the treatment of incontinence and are trained to offer more advanced diagnostic tests and treatments. If you are a woman you may be more comfortable with an urogynecologist, a doctor with special training in female bladder problems.

"Simple tests, such as straining while holding your breath, may help determine what type of incontinence you suffer from."

Get ready for your appointment by doing simple steps like writing down your symptoms and episodes of incontinence.

If possible, make a diary and record how much you drink, when you urinate, the amount of urine you produce, whether you had an urge to urinate and the number of incontinence episodes several days before your appointment.

What to expect

Your doctor will most likely ask you a number of questions, take a thorough medical history and perform a physical exam. Simple tests, such as straining while holding your breath, may help determine what type of incontinence you suffer from. A sample of your urine is checked for signs of infection, traces of blood or other abnormalities. Your doctor may then recommend special tests.

Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, it’s severity and the underlying cause. The doctor will suggest the least invasive option first and progress to other treatments as needed. Behavioral techniques, pelvic floor exercises, electrical stimulation, medications, medical devices, interventional therapies and surgery comprise the many treatment options available.

It’s important to take the first step and ask your doctor about treatment and you’ll be on your way to regaining an active and confident life.