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In order to diagnose stress incontinence, your provider will perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. The exam may include a rectal exam. Tests that may be done include:

  • Cystoscopy: This procedure uses a tube-like instrument to look inside the urethra and bladder. Local anesthesia is used. In some cases, sedation or general anesthesia may be required. Cystoscopy can reveal swelling, redness, and other signs of infection.
  • Pad weight test: You’ll be asked to exercise while wearing a sanitary pad. The pad will then be weighed to find out how much urine you lost.
  • Voiding diary: Voiding is another word for urination. You may be asked to track your urinary habits, leakage, and fluid intake in a diary.
  • Pelvic or abdominal ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of internal organs. The images can show structural abnormalities in the urinary tract.
  • Post-void residual (PVR): This test measures the amount of urine left after you urinate. A thin tube called a catheter is passed through the urethra and into the bladder. The catheter drains the remaining urine, which can then be measured. Another method uses an ultrasound scan to create an image of the bladder and its contents.
  • Urinalysis: A urine sample may be taken to check for urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Urinary stress test: You may be asked to stand with a full bladder and then cough, or cough while lying down.
  • Urodynamics: Any procedure that examines how well the bladder, sphincters, and urethra are storing and releasing urine is considered urodynamic testing. Most urodynamic tests focus on the bladder’s function.