offered by Laura Johnson, FNP
(from Viveve Women’s Health Blog – June 2018
Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” –C.S. Lewis
In honor of World Continence Week, we’ve put together the top three ways we talk about urinary incontinence.
1. STIGMATIZE: A stigma is “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something.” The stigma around urinary incontinence is rooted in shame and fear. We feel shame that our bodies aren’t functioning properly. We are fearful to laugh, cough, sneeze, run or do yoga because we might leak a little. And, even worse, people might see it or smell it. (Nobody wants to relive the childhood trauma of peeing your pants.) The result of this stigma? We don’t talk about it. We suffer alone, in silence with urinary incontinence.
“Conditions affecting the bladder have often been uncomfortable or “taboo” subjects and these medical disorders have been under-reported and under-diagnosed. Surveys have shown that fewer than 40% of persons with urinary incontinence mention their problem to a doctor or nurse.” – The International Continence Society
2. MINIMIZE: This one is difficult, because it’s the most common way we talk about urinary incontinence. We acknowledge that it’s real, but we minimize the impact on our self-esteem, our confidence, our sex lives, and accept it as just part of life.
“I can’t jump on trampolines anymore, I wet myself…when you’ve had a few children, it’s just what happens. It’s amazing, two sneezes, I’m fine. Three, it’s game over!” Kate Winslet, actress and mom of three, told PEOPLE Magazine.
You may be thinking, “Look, a famous actress is talking about her urine leakage! She’s normalizing the problem. That’s good, right?” Well, yes and no. Yes, Kate is helping other women realize it’s normal (which we LOVE) but she’s minimizing the issue by saying “it just happens.” And, she’s not the first woman to say this. Ladies, sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
For years, we’ve been telling each other the same story over coffee or drinks, at dinner or over the phone: after kids you’ll have to cross your legs when you sneeze or laugh. You might not be able to jump on a trampoline anymore. Oh, also, you may not be able to run or do yoga without wearing a pad. But that it’s okay—it’s just part of the price you pay for giving birth to your baby. It’s just what happens. Well, it may be normal, but it’s not okay. It may be just part of life, but this part doesn’t have to be permanent.
3. NORMALIZE: Ladies, this is it. This is how we should talk about urinary incontinence; by normalizing the condition and seeking real solutions.
“People think they’re the only ones dealing with this,” Kris Jenner told NowToLove. “When you realize that the woman sitting next to you is probably going through the same thing, you feel less lonely.”
No more minimizing or stigmatizing urinary incontinence. Stigmas close the conversation and minimizing the problem leads to symptom management, not solutions. We are changing the story. We are opening the conversation and normalizing the condition. Jada Pinkett Smith shared her story on her show, Red Table Talk, and how she actually underwent vaginal rejuvenation for her bladder issues. Let’s take it one step farther. Let’s normalize the conversation AND demand real solutions for this real medical condition. No more pads, pills, painful surgeries or pretend solutions. It’s time for real solutions. You deserve to live your life leak-free.