The secret’s leaked: Bladder weakness isn’t weird
A CGI close-up of some nappy-like incontinence pants. A middle-aged woman in a conservatory, whispering to the camera over a cup of tea. A flustered new mum, laden with grocery bags, suddenly shook… by a different kind of sneeze. If it’s not obvious, we’re thinking about bladder leaks.
Some of you don’t need to ponder these stereotypical images relating to bladder weakness - you’ve got lived experience and wet pants to throw in the wash, thanks. For others, the only time they’ve almost wet themselves is when yelling, ‘Oh my god, don’t make me laugh or i’ll pee!’
In any case, you might not be aware of just how common an issue it is to pee yourself sometimes - especially when you cough, laugh, jump, climb, exercise or sneeze.
Bladder leaks are extremely common.
The truth is, bladder weakness affects people of all genders, but those who have a uterus are affected a lot more. In fact, the NHS reports that one in three women get bladder leaks. It’s so common for some, you’ve probably got the t-shirt (and you definitely want to sell it on Ebay).
Despite the fact that so many of us are clenching ‘down there’ with every snorting chortle, only one in ten have discussed their own bladder weakness with a friend, and only one in six with a nurse, according to a YouGov poll.
These are surprising revelations, right? Seeing as peeing is an essential bodily function, for so many people to be ‘putting up with it’ is kind of a scandal. So why are we suffering in silence with bladder leaks?
Surprise! There’s a stigma.
A big welcome back to our old friends, Embarrassment and Shame. They show up to everything it seems, because - you guessed it - there’s a stigma surrounding incontinence and bladder health.
The general consensus in society is that bladder weakness is unsavoury and gross. Some people experience depression from their incontinence which only intensifies that cycle of silent shame. It can also be seen as ‘a women’s issue’ and something to keep behind closed bathroom doors (when the irony is, it never happens in there).
Even at Here We Flo, we often hit resistance when trying to get coverage of our glo organic bladder pads, and we’re tired of keeping schtum about the things we should be shouting about. Let’s unpack the bladder weakness taboo a little deeper...
All kinds of people pee themselves sometimes.
The poster-person of bladder weakness is an older or menopausal cisgender woman, whose pelvic muscles have started to weaken. It’s true, this demographic is the most commonly affected by bladder leakage - and hi, if that’s you! But let’s talk about everyone else who we don’t see depicted so much in the media - all the new mums & parents with a uterus, pregnant people & women, those who’ve suffered injury or trauma, differently-abled people, people without children, those in their 20s and 30s - and anyone of any age who, for whatever reason, has a weaker pelvic floor.
The first stereotype we need to smash is that bladder weakness is weird unless you’ve reached a certain age. It’s extremely common for all ages, and the secrecy around it only serves to enforce that misguided stereotype.
Because it’s embarrassing, people ignore the issue.
We’re also not saying that urinary incontinence is something to embrace, so please don’t take off your knickers and burn them in celebration. Peeing a little bit when you don’t expect it can make you feel uncomfortable, self-conscious and anxious in your own body. At its mildest it’s annoying, and at its worst, it’s debilitating and distressing.
The fact of the matter is: you don’t have to live that way. No matter how much you’ve gotten used to the occasional accident, if you’ve not seen a doctor about your mischievous bladder, it’s important to get an appointment in the diary. For some, it may be the result of an underlying condition, something to prepare for with the right protection. For others, you may need a course of treatment or regular pelvic floor exercises for things to improve.
Millions of us are putting up with bladder leaks unnecessarily.
We have a history of just putting up with things, eh? But as we should all know, this comes at a price. Each time we decide NOT to divulge our blush-worthy hardships over coffee with a friend, our unsaid suffering mushrooms and becomes entrenched as ‘just part of the female/uterus-owning experience’. Before long we’re all just throwing spare knickers in our bags for every outing, begrudgingly expecting a torrent of lol-induced wet patches.
Enough with this kind of thing! At Here We Flo we believe you are entitled to be comfortably dry at all times: that includes when you jump on a trampoline, climb onto a stage, lift a kettlebell or a mid-tantrum two year old, and engage in all fits of laughing, coughing and sneezing.
You should feel free and empowered to say to a friend ‘I pee myself a lot when I’m out, do you?’ and have them reply in earnest. But also to say, ‘I absolutely pissed myself laughing’ and have it be merely a figure of speech.
Society affects all of us, but remember we also affect society. Speak up about this vastly common issue to your friends and medical provider, to smash the bladder weakness taboo and ensure you get the right treatment and support.
We believe in moving on from this era of boring bodily taboos and urge you to talk about all the messy, imperfect realities that come with being a woman and/or a uterus-owning human. If you get bladder leaks, our subscription of organic bladder pads offer sensitive bladder protection, for comfortable dryness that’s good for the planet. Be sure to protect yourself and visit your doctor, too!