Article by Ceri Wheeldon
For the 10 million women living in the UK today experiencing incontinence, coping with this in the workplace can be a very real issue. I recently attended a round table discussion held by Depend, during which they released brand new research and we heard from a panel on how to continue living the life you love after experiencing incontinence.
It was interesting to see how panel members Lorraine, a Pilates instructor, Jo, a Teaching Assistant and TV presenter Nadia Sawalha talked about how incontinence impacted their working lives.
Jo shared the fact that, although she was initially reluctant, she eventually confided in a colleague about her incontinence. Faced with a school trip where she was responsible for a group of children, she knew she could not simply leave the children unsupervised while she looked for a toilet. She asked for help from a female colleague to ensure that her class was watched over. Her colleague was incredibly supportive and Jo realised how much better it was to share her experience with incontinence rather than to try and cope alone. Just knowing that there was someone willing to help if needed, even made Jo less conscious of her incontinence.
Lorraine, who is a mindful Pilates Teacher for the over 50’s, said that her working day was really impacted when she started experiencing incontinence after giving birth to her daughter in her 30s. At this time Lorraine was teaching 10 aerobics classes a week she says, “It had a huge impact on my teaching because of the embarrassment factor but with regards to coping, I really took the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ route. It wasn’t something widely talked about then, especially amongst young women, and I was only in my 30’s. In the end, I spoke to a friend of mine who came to my classes who was a nurse and was very supportive.”
Nadia Sawalha said that she felt compelled to share with colleague when asked to participate in a trampoline segment on Loose Women. Nadia felt she had to warn producers that she may have an ‘accident’ (luckily she didn’t). However, one of her Loose Women colleagues (also experiencing incontinence), didn’t feel she could risk participating in the trampoline segment at all, for fear of embarrassment. It was this segment and the conversation with her colleagues which compelled Nadia to speak publicly about incontinence on Loose Women; since then, hundreds of women have approached and thanked her for doing so.
Nadia feels passionately that women should be more open and share their experience with incontinence with others to help remove the embarrassment. In her case, as well as using Depend Active-Fit, there are things that work for her to reduce the frequency of her incontinence such as- Pilates and rebounding – if she stops doing either for a couple of weeks she really notices the difference.
All three women said that accepting the problem and using the right product such as Depend Active-Fit underwear made all the difference.
Lorraine says, “Depend’s Active-Fit underwear has made a huge difference and it is my safety net so to speak as my incontinence is now manageable. Depend gives you the confidence to lead an active life, and I am very active in hiking, walking my chocolate Labrador, playing golf and teaching Pilates. I rely on the product like a trusted friend, and it is so discreet and comfortable – nobody can tell I’m wearing it! I had a lady in my class who tried Depend Active-Fit underwear and she is in her 70’s; extremely youthful and full of fun, but has just lost her husband after a long illness. The underwear has given her the confidence to go on a life-changing trip next year and it is comforting to know she won’t have any worries about any leakages and can relax and enjoy the experience. It is stories like that which make me feel so happy to be able to share what a wonderful product Depend Active-Fit is”
3 tips Lorraine would like to share with women experiencing incontinence
- There is a fantastic online community where you can ask questions and get advice and support from other women who have been in your shoes. I wish it had been around when I first experienced incontinence years a You can find it at depend.co.uk.
- Share your thoughts and feelings about incontinence (like I did) with a friend or family member. It is a huge relief to have support around you, and as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
- Try Depend Active-fit underwear and see for yourself. You can get free active-fit samples from www.depend.co.uk. You will feel and look fantastic!
With women over 50 being active in the workplace for longer, we cannot allow the embarrassment of a common condition such as incontinence get in the way. By sharing with each other, using the right products, and talking to your GP for other options if you require more support, there is no reason for incontinence to impact your working day.
Disclosure: Depend funded my attendance at their roundtable discussion.
Photo credit Adrian Brooks/Imagewise