Providers and Specialists Who Treat OAB
Many types of health care providers can offer basic help for OAB. Here are the types of providers you may meet:
Urologist* are surgeons who evaluate and treat problems of the urinary tract. Most urologists are very experienced with incontinence. However, not all of them specialize in treating OAB. A patient should ask if their provider specializes in treating OAB.
Gynecologists are doctors who focus on women’s health. Most are knowledgeable about incontinence, but not all are trained to treat OAB.
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) specialists are urologists or gynecologists who are trained as experts in female pelvic health. The public often refers to FPMRS specialists as female urologists or urogynecologists.
Primary Care Practitioners are doctors who can diagnose and treat common health concerns. If a primary care provider is experienced with OAB, they will tell you your options. Or, they may refer you to a specialist, especially if lifestyle changes haven’t helped.
Internist are general doctors who may or may not be primary care providers. They will often refer to a specialist.
Nurse Practitioners (NP) are highly trained nurses, able to treat many medical problems. Some NPs specialize in issues like OAB, or they will refer you to a specialist.
Physician Assistants (PA) are professionals licensed to practice medicine with a doctor’s oversight. NPs and PAs are often part of the health care team. Many can diagnose and treat non-surgically and can help with exercises and lifestyle changes. Some specialize in issues such as OAB.
Geriatricians are doctors who treat older patients, and many are able to evaluate and treat OAB. But, not all treat OAB.
Physical Therapists are licensed health professionals who provide physical therapy. If they have special training in pelvic floor disorders, they can help with exercises and lifestyle changes for OAB.
*Typically, specialists who treat OAB and incontinence include urologists and female pelvic medicine specialists. It helps to ask if your health care provider has direct training or experience with OAB.
Use our Find-a-Urologist tool to help find a urologist near you. Simply chose “incontinence” as a specialty for urologists with training and experience in urine leaks and OAB.
Tips for a Successful Doctor's Visit
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when talking about OAB symptoms. Who wants to talk about bathroom problems or incontinence? Still, knowing more about OAB is the best way to take control of the problem. A little planning will give you confidence. Here are some tips to help:
Be prepared. Before your appointment, help the health care provider learn what’s going on by gathering some information. Also, be ready to take notes about what you learn. It is helpful to bring:
- A list of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbs you take.
- A list of your past and current illnesses or injuries.
- Results from the Overactive Bladder Assessment Tool, to help you discuss your symptoms.
- A way to take notes about treatments.
Bring a friend. Ask a close friend or relative to go with you to the doctor. An “appointment buddy” can help remind you of things you may forget to ask, or remind you of things the health care provider said.
Bring up the topic. If your health care provider doesn’t ask about your OAB symptoms, then bring up the topic yourself. It may not be wise to wait until the end of your visit, so you can be sure you have time for questions. If a nurse meets with you first, tell the nurse about your symptoms.
Speak freely. Share everything you’re experiencing. Your health care provider has heard it all! It’s okay to tell them about your symptoms and how they impact your daily life.
Ask questions. A visit to your health care provider is the right time to ask questions. It is best to bring your list of questions with you so you don’t forget them. We offer some good questions to ask in each section of this guide to help you.
Talking with Your Health Care Provider
Questions to Ask the Doctor about OAB
- Are my symptoms from OAB or from something else?
- What tests will I need to find out if I have OAB?
- What could have caused my OAB?
- Can I do anything to prevent OAB symptoms?
Questions to Ask the Doctor about Treatment
- What would happen if I don’t treat my OAB?
- What lifestyle changes should I make?
- Are there any exercises I can do to help?
- Do I need to see a physical therapist?
- What treatment could help my OAB?
- How soon after treatment will I feel better?
- What are the good and bad things that I should know about these treatments?
- What problems should I call you about after I start treatment?
- What happens if the first treatment doesn’t help?
- Will I need treatment for the rest of my life?
- Can my OAB be managed?
- What are my next steps?
Questions to Ask Yourself about Symptoms
- Do my symptoms make me stop doing the things I enjoy, or prevent me from going to events?
- Am I afraid to be too far from a bathroom?
- Have my symptoms changed my relationships with friends or family?
- Do my symptoms make it hard to get a good night’s sleep?