Updated 13 December 2018

5 ways to talk to friends and family about incontinence

Incontinence is embarrassing, but you don’t have to hide your condition from your loved ones. Here are five ways to talk to friends and family about incontinence.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence and a weak bladder often affect older women or mothers, especially those who have given natural birth or have pelvic floor dysfunction. Studies have however found that it can also affect much younger women who have never given birth.

The involuntary leaking of urine involved with incontinence is embarrassing, especially in intimate situations. But you don’t have to hide this from your partner. Here are some tips on how to initiate a conversation about incontinence with your partner or loved ones.

1. Pick the right time

You might be tempted to wait until your partner brings up the topic, but it’s better to start the conversation yourself. Wait until you and your partner or family members are in a relaxed environment. 

older couple talking about incontinence

2. Stay calm

Make sure that you and your partner are both relaxed. Because incontinence can be an embarrassing topic, it’s easy to get defensive or feel nervous about tackling the subject. Keep in mind that your partner might be more supportive than you think.

older couple talking about incontinence

3. Explain the cause of your condition

Whether your incontinence is due to hormonal imbalance, stress or pregnancy, explain the cause of your condition to your partner. While people may be supportive, they might not know anything about incontinence.

woman talking to her female doctor about incontinence

4. Encourage questions

Keep an open dialogue and allow your partner and/or family members to ask as many questions as possible. The more informed they are about the condition, the better. Tell them that while you might feel embarrassed, incontinence is not ruling your life and that you can control it. 

question marks

5. Talk about your treatment plans and options

It’s important to find the right treatment options for incontinence to help you feel more at ease and live your life normally. Talk to your partner about what your treatment plan entails. 


Image credits: iStock


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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