Urinary Incontinence test and diagnosis

Reading time: 4 min

Generally undergo a diagnostic protocol to determine the type of urinary incontinence that the patient has that includes:

Folder with a patient's medical history

Medical history. It will be review your family history, the diseases you have had, the course of any past pregnancies or births, and whether you have had any gynaecological problems. They will also interview you to learn about your symptoms and to identify risk factors: if you drink too much fluid, if you consume stimulating drinks (coffee, tea, etc.), if you are following a treatment with any medicines that can cause incontinence (e.g., diuretics), or alternatively retain urine, (e.g., antidepressants).

Form with ticked boxes in a folder

Symptom questionnaires. You will be asked to complete some short questionnaires to make the best possible evaluation of the symptoms.


Physical examination. To detect physical abnormalities that could be related to the incontinence, such as potentially associated problems (scars from previous operations, abdominal hernias, skin lesions, etc.).

Urine sample cup with bar code

Urine analysis
A urine sample is analysed to rule out a urinary infection. If positive, the germ causing the infection is identified and the appropriate antibiotic therapy applied.

Urinary diary or bladder record

Urinary diary or bladder record. A urinary diary is a daily record of the number of urinations and leaks, and the volume of fluid consumed. It helps the doctor to better understand your urinary incontinence and also identify behavioural habits that can be modified to achieve a significant improvement in the symptoms.

Depending on the symptoms and physical examination, there are other diagnostic tests that can provide further information about the cause of the urinary incontinence.

Ultrasound on a monitor

Residual urine measurement. Ultrasound is a straightforward, painless technique used to determine the volume of residual urine, i.e., the amount remaining in the bladder after urinating naturally.

Monitor with a graph depicting a urodynamic study

Urodynamic study. This is the key test for identifying the exact type of urinary incontinence and diagnosing other urinary dysfunctions. It is designed to measure how the bladder functions while it fills with liquid and when urinating.

Ultrasound on a monitor

Pelvic floor ultrasoundThis is a simple, painless test that evaluates the shape of the urethra (passageway through which urine is discharged), the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles.


Cystoscopy. This technique provides an internal view of the bladder and urethra.

Ultrasound on a monitor

Kidney/bladder ultrasoundThis test is used to evaluate the anatomy and morphology of the bladder, urinary tract and kidneys, in order to rule out lithiasis (stones).

Which professional should I consult?

Healthcare professional (doctor, nurse, etc.) should aim to detect (ask if you suffer urine losses) and provide information about incontinence problems. It could be either a family doctor or specialist in general gynaecology or urology that diagnoses the type of urinary incontinence and indicates the initial treatment.

Gynaecology and urology departments include professionals who are experts in pelvic floor disorders. A urogynaecologist is a doctor who specialises in gynaecology or urology and is either preferentially or exclusively dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders, such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Many medical centres currently have urogynaecology units (also called pelvic floor units) where gynaecologists, urologists, nurses and other specialists work in collaboration to provide comprehensive attention to women with these health problems.

Substantiated information by:

Amelia Pérez González
Montserrat Espuña Pons
Sònia Anglès Acedo

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

If this is the first time you subscribe you will receive a confirmation email, check your inbox

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.