Translate this website into the following languages:

Close Tab
UC San Diego Health
menu iconMenu
search iconSearch

Your First Appointment: Diagnosing Pelvic Floor Disorders

Your first appointment is an opportunity to meet your doctor, discuss your medical history, and talk about the types of information and tests that will help with a diagnosis.

Our physicians are board-certified and have advanced fellowship training in female pelvic floor disorders, including incontinence and prolapse. They perform hundreds of major operations each year and their clinical and research interests include urodynamics, voicing dysfunction, prolapse, accidental bowel leakage, and other pelvic floor disorders.

Medical History and Physical Examination

An accurate diagnosis is very important, because treatment based on an incorrect diagnosis may not help your incontinence and could even make it worse.

From left: Drs. Charles Nager, Marianna Alperin,
Michael Albo and Emily Lukacz, Cindy Furey, PT

To diagnose the cause of your urinary incontinence, our specialists will ask about your medical history and conduct a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. You may also be asked to cough while you are standing to check for stress incontinence. In addition, a urinalysis and urine culture may be done to see if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Symptom Check: You will also be asked to explain your symptoms and habits; for example, how often you need to urinate, when you leak urine, how much fluid and what kinds of fluids you drink, and whether you have any other symptoms along with incontinence. Your answers will provide clues about the cause of your incontinence.

Voiding History: Your initial exam will be most productive if you can bring a 3- to 4-day diary of what and how much you drink, and how often and how much you urinate and leak. The pattern of your urine leakage may point to the type of incontinence.

Urodynamic Testing

Urodynamic tests for urinary incontinence are measurements taken to evaluate your bladder's function and efficiency. The actual tests done vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Cystometry (also called cystometrography or uroflowmetry): A series of tests to measure bladder pressure at different levels of fullness. Cystometry is helpful in diagnosing urge incontinence.
  • Cystoscopy: A procedure that uses small telescopes to look inside the bladder (read more about cystoscopy)
  • Videourodynamics: Studies that X-ray the bladder and measure its pressure during filling and emptying

By thoroughly understanding the type of incontinence present in each patient, our physicians can recommend the appropriate therapy for you.




La Jolla

Meet Our Specialists

Learn More

Support better ways to treat pelvic floor disorders

Make a financial gift to the Women's Pelvic Medicine Center

Give Now

Our bimonthly newsletter delivers healthy lifestyle tips, patient stories and research discovery news. Subscribe: