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Smashing The Stigma Around Incontinence

health

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5 min read

smashing the stigma around incontinence blog

by Team Thinx | 25/03/2024

Medically reviewed by Dr. Saru Bala

Perhaps you were laughing at a joke. Maybe your body has changed post-childbirth. Or maybe, there’s no obvious reason why this is going on. But it happens. And it’s not just you.

Many people believe incontinence is rare, but this is not true. Loss of bowel or bladder control is common across all age groups. Sometimes it can be as small as a leak, or maybe a result of functional incontinence. Regardless, incontinence problems can affect anyone, and luckily there are incontinence products and treatment options available.

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder and bowel control, and it is a common and often treatable condition amongst all age groups, yet it remains shrouded in stigma and misinformation. 

Incontinence isn’t discussed openly enough, causing individuals to suffer in silence with feelings of shame, anxiety and embarrassment. In the 2023 Thinx State of the Period survey, 56% of adult respondents agreed that it was better for them to stay home than to deal with incontinence issues in public. It shouldn’t have to be this way. 

How to Talk About Incontinence

Here are some steps we must take to eradicate the stigma around incontinence and look after the mental and physical well-being of those experiencing it: 

1) Normalize conversations about incontinence. Incontinence is not shameful, and both individuals with the condition and their loved ones should be empowered to talk freely about what they’re going through. For those with this condition, this may look like talking about their experience, how it’s impacting their well-being, and asking questions about how they can better manage the problem. For their loved ones, it is about being receptive to the concerns of the person experiencing incontinence issues, asking if they can be of any help, and how they’ve been feeling. 

2) Education. Whether it be in schools, amongst family and friends, or at our healthcare provider’s office – education plays an essential role in dispelling the shame around incontinence. It’s important to know what incontinence is, why it happens, and who it happens to. Then, we can recognize it as a real and everyday condition that warrants attention free of embarrassment. 

3) Encouraging treatment and medical help. When incontinence begins to interfere with an individual’s daily activities or mental health, treatment options should be encouraged with dignity. Depending on the type of incontinence, this could look like behavioral techniques such as bladder training, pelvic floor muscle exercises, medications, or incontinence products like Thinx’s own absorbent underwear for bladder leaks. 

4) Compassion and empathy. While incontinence is a physical condition, it can have drastic mental ramifications. If you experience incontinence, treat yourself kindly. Remember that you are not alone, and that this condition does not detract from who you are. For loved ones and medical professionals, please extend the individual patience, kindness, and understanding. It goes a long way. 

Incontinence doesn’t have to be something we hide behind embarrassment and shame. Together, we have the ability to learn and be empathetic toward those who experience incontinence issues. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment option for you.

Check out our educational video hub on YouTube to learn more from experts like Dr. Bala, a Naturopathic Doctor and Thinx Partner specializing in women's hormonal health, and join our mission to empower all who pee and bleed with shame-free body literacy education. 

The information contained in this article should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care professional.

sources:

https://ufhealth.org/conditions-and-treatments/urinary-incontinence/patient-education 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352814 

https://urology.weillcornell.org/overcoming-stigma-urinary-incontinence-how-doctors-can-empower-patients 

https://nafc.org/bhealth-blog/how-to-talk-about-incontinence-with-your-loved-one/

by Team Thinx

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