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A Flood of Embarrassment

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 2:53 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Bathroom SignA former coworker once informed me (for no apparent reason) that she had a box of Depends in her car, just in case. I stared at her attempting to come up with a tactful reply as my mental self ran screaming from the room, traumatized by FAR too much information. My reaction was not unusual although the woman’s declaration may have been. Incontinence, the inability to control urination or bowel movements, is considered a “don’t go there” subject.  No one wants to hear about; no one wants to talk about it. And that is precisely the problem.

An estimated 20 million women and six million men have suffered from urinary incontinence. Five percent of the population has experienced fecal incontinence, and one in four American adults will face one or the other at some point in their lives. However, most will go untreated. The embarrassment keeps mouths shut even as the flood gates continue to open. As a result, women suffer silently through stress incontinence and urge incontinence, and men do the same, adding overflow incontinence to the mix, while effective treatments, ranging from medications to exercises to surgery, remain unused.

If you have or believe you may have urinary or fecal incontinence speak with your doctor. Don’t be afraid of the stigma, as it shouldn’t exist. You shouldn’t have to worry that every time you jog, laugh or cough, urine will spittle out, or that you’ll constantly be unable to make it to the bathroom in time. You should be able to go out in public without anxiety (or a box of Depends). If you’re interested in prevention, exercise more and shed any extra pounds. If you’re a woman, try kegel exercises.  They’ll strengthen your pelvic muscles with a few simple squeezes three times a day.

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