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Written by

Kate Dyson

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Kate is a content specialist who is passionate about women's health. She's also mum to three kids, two dogs and unsurprisingly, a lover of wine.

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Glossary

For words you might want to know more

Incontinence

A medical condition involving the involuntary leakage of urine, which can be managed with proper care and open communication.

Bladder Weakness

A common issue that affects many individuals, leading to challenges in controlling urination, often requiring practical solutions and support.

5 Tips for Managing 'Trickly' Conversations

Bladder weakness and incontinence are common issues that 1 in 3 women experience, but the truth is that despite how common they are, many of us feel shame or embarrassment about the fact we leak or need to dash to the loo so frequently. These feelings are normal, but they can make it difficult to talk about the condition, even with those closest to us.

Whether you're discussing it with an intimate partner, a colleague, a friend, or a family member, these conversations can feel daunting and make you feel anxious - there's a lot of societal stigma to overcome when it comes to incontinence, and for many of us, it's an issue that doesn't 'fit' well with the image we want others to have of us.

The old adage "a problem shared is a problem halved" couldn't be truer when it comes to our health worries. Broaching the subject of leaks and incontinence with loved or trusted people in your life can lead to greater understanding and support, helping you manage your condition with dignity.

Here are five tips to help you navigate these tricky conversations with ease and confidence.

Tip 1: Choose the Right Moment

Timing is crucial when it comes to discussing sensitive topics like incontinence. Selecting a moment when both you and the other person are relaxed and free from distractions can set the stage for a more productive conversation. For instance, talking to your partner at the end of a stressful day may not be ideal. Instead, opt for a calm evening when you can both focus on the discussion.

In a workplace setting, consider requesting a private meeting with your manager or HR person rather than bringing it up during a busy period. Let them know you have a personal health matter to discuss, which will ensure you have their full attention. By choosing an appropriate time and setting, you create a more comfortable environment for both of you and lessen any rushed feelings or anxiety.

Tip 2: Be Honest and Direct

When you’re ready to talk about incontinence, being honest and direct is the best approach. Start by clearly stating the issue and how it affects you. For example, with a partner, you might say, "I've been experiencing some bladder weakness recently, and it's been a bit challenging for me." This straightforward approach helps to demystify the condition and sets a tone of openness.

For conversations with colleagues or supervisors, you could say, "I have a medical condition that requires me to use the toilet more frequently. I wanted to inform you so you understand why I might need to step away from my desk more often." This transparency can foster a supportive and understanding environment with people you rely on at work to support you.

Tip 3: Use Educational Resources

If you are struggling to know how to start the conversation, having some flyers, printouts or even medication to hand to get things going can help. You could send a link to Jude's website, for example (even this blog!) via email or text and ask them to chat with you later. Having resources on hand can help facilitate the conversation and provide your loved ones or colleagues with a better understanding of incontinence.

Sharing articles, pamphlets, or reputable websites can demystify the condition and answer questions they might have. This can also reduce the stigma and embarrassment that often accompany these discussions and help both of you to prepare in advance.

Tip 4: Articulate your needs

It's important to communicate your needs clearly during these conversations. This might involve discussing practical matters such as needing to visit the bathroom more frequently or requiring certain accommodations at work. By being specific about what you need, you can help others understand how they can support you.

With your partner, husband or lover, you might explain that you need to wear protective underwear or that you may need to change bedding more frequently. At work, you might need to discuss flexible break times or easy access to restrooms.

Being clear and specific helps others provide the necessary support and reduces misunderstandings. They'll know exactly what you expect from them in terms of support and practical help, too.

Tip 5: Focus on Solutions, Not Problems

When discussing any sensitive issue, such as leaks and incontinence, it’s helpful to focus on solutions rather than just the problems. This approach can make the conversation more positive and constructive - but this isn't to say that it's not important to convey the impact that bladder weakness is having on you mentally and physically too.

Explaining the steps you are taking to manage your condition and can help the other person see where they can make a difference for you, whether that's supporting changes in diet, or frequent breaks on a long journey. It might be that they help you remember to do your pelvic floor exercises (and do them too!)

Remember, it's more common than you think

Discussing bladder weakness and incontinence with loved ones, colleagues, and friends can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

It's helpful to remember that incontinence, urgency and leaks are a common issue for many, many of us - 2.6 billion people suffer across the globe so there's a good chance that your experience will be met with acknowledgment and familiarity when you open up to others. Seeking support is a step towards better managing your condition and maintaining your dignity.

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