“If Incontinence were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.*”
Last week was World Continence Week, and many of the posts about leaking were brilliant and informational.
I have one on our blog (informational, but basic) about Pelvic Floor Therapy. I interviewed Dr. Julie Cohn — she has a real mission to help women, and is a valuable resource.
WOMEN SHAMING WOMEN
But while I was researching stats on incontinence, #WCW, and pelvic floor therapy, I came across a recurring theme (particularly on Instagram). There are many, many newly-minted therapists and trainers telling women that they should never have to put up with pads.
Obviously, since we make reusable incontinence pads, I read all those posts.
And I have to say, I’m pretty saddened by the use of subtle shame in them. Particularly when women are shaming other women. Jessica Knoll’s recent opinion piece in the New York Times about Smashing the Wellness Industry struck a chord with me, and it speaks to how I feel about the use of shame in what is essentially an advertisement.
I’ve read posts from several pelvic floor therapists who consistently say that “leaking urine is common, but never normal” — enough that I have to assume that phrase is part of the language used in specialty courses. And I agree that we should strive not to “normalize” problems that can be fixed.
BUT . . .
A 22-year-old who has just gotten the right mix of anti-depressants to control her anxiety and depression may have also just learned that those life-saving drugs can cause bladder leaks. Telling her that leaking is never normal probably isn’t going to make her feel better about the medication she’s taking.
A single mom who is juggling work and children, and struggling just to pay for everyday necessities doesn’t care whether it’s normal or not. With neither the time nor funds to spend on therapy, she just needs an affordable solution right now.
A woman in her late 50s who has never had children or dealt with stress incontinence may be shocked to find herself leaking when she can’t find her keys in the bottom of her purse while trying to open her front door. Trust me when I say she already knows that menopause is not fun.
An 80-year-old who moves a little slowly getting out of bed at night, or who has trouble unbuttoning her pants while trying to maneuver around her luggage in the bathroom stall at the airport may not have a lot of patience for someone who thinks everything can be fixed with exercises.
MESSAGE VS. MISSION
I know these therapists think they are speaking to a specific audience, but I find their tone anything but empowering. So while I understand why they are telling women that leaking isn’t normal, the message may be opposed to the mission.
We all want to empower women. We all want to help them talk about bladder leaks. We all want them to seek help. We all want them to understand all of the solutions available to them, so that they can live their best lives. We do NOT want them to feel ashamed by a bodily function that, in fact, can be a “normal” part of everyday life. Because there are many reasons for bladder leaks, some of which physical therapy can’t help.
MANY REASONS FOR INCONTINENCE
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Hormonal Changes
NO ONE RIGHT ANSWER FOR INCONTINENCE
For the most part, I feel like our mission aligns perfectly with therapists like Dr. Cohn. We want to empower women to keep living their lives, even if they continue to deal with urinary leaks.
Dr. Cohn helps them by using physical therapy.
Other doctors help with surgery, or shots, or in some cases, medication.
Tech companies like D Free make wearable devices that can help monitor bladder fullness.
WeWarriors helps by providing a soft, washable pad that gets you out and about, to the gym, to the office, and to that doctor’s appointment where you can learn about therapies that can help stop leaking. And . . .
Reusable pads reduce waste while women search for longer-term solutions for leaking.
WeWarriors also wants to reduce the number of disposables that go into landfills every day, and obviously, if pelvic floor therapy can help you stop leaking for good, not needing to use reusable pads, let alone disposables, is the best way to keep from adding to a landfill.
Accidents in life actually are pretty normal.
Treating incontinence as such will go a long way toward helping people start the conversation, without the shame.
*Statistic via @pelvicroar