The Shame of Incontinence

Why is incontinence something we do not talk about?

It’s not the most glamorous subject to talk about and through any community it is a subject connected with shame and disgust.

Movies stars die of cancer and heart attacks but never about wetting themselves.

Many doctors still prefer to not deal with the subject matter and besides the specialists in this area of medicine, not a lot is understood or wanted to be understood by the majority of the medical profession.

We are always quite happy to discuss sex, but anything that deals with the waste products of our bodies is a topic we don’t want to think about let alone talk about.

It is viewed as something of; distaste, abhorrence even disgust so anything related to bowel or bladder waste is shameful to talk about and best left without discussion at all.

Therefore to talk about it is an experience people most people just don’t want to go there.

A person with incontinence can be perceived as someone looked upon with avoidance and distaste.

Being unable to control your own body waste is considered lower than most other things.As if you are mentally deficient or words to that effect.

People, rightly or wrongly, feel disgust towards the body’s wastes.

The reality is……………

In Australia there are nearly 5 million people with incontinence and in the USA nearly 20,000,000 people suffer from this debilitating and stigmatised problem.

Its a physical problem and generally not a pyschological problem

It isolates people emotionally, physically, and socially and the impact on the sufferer can be profound and irreparable if a no solution is found.

The sad fact is the largest percentages of sufferers are women who have borne the brunt of child birth and child rearing only to be punished in later years with their own incontinence.

Why? Because they never had the time to take care of themselves when they were busy taking care of babies and children and husbands.

The whole thing is based on our judgement and perception of others who may have incontinence and what goes spinning about in our heads. It becomes magnified, blown up in our mind beyond all proportion-it gradually affects our thinking. Like a dark little secret we have as sufferers.

The people who suffer from incontinence needlessly place undue pressure on themselves by stress, isolation and depression, yes that’s right depression as well –they really do not need anyone else to stigmatise and judge them-they have already done it to themselves quite well –thank you very much!

We tend to magnify it in our minds as sufferers as well as observers of someone in our mind who has the complication in their lives.


Probably the best way to look at it is 1 in 4 people in Australia suffer from some form of incontinence and the best way to understand the issue is first of all appreciate the significance of this number nearly 5,000,000!.

Therefore you are not alone and its costing both you and the government a significant amount of money in ; pads and diapers, lost wages from absenteeism from work, psychological problems , medical consultations alone run into the hundreds of thousands a year just to see a GP about it.( About $14,000 per capita per anum)

Often people worry about what others will think about their problem in a way that magnifies their embarrassment. We greatly exaggerate in our minds its impact on others if they really find out about our little secret.

There are solutions available with new technology and new surgical procedures . You can learn a lot about who has incontinence and even add your thoughts about it anonymously on forums and blogs and read stories of others just like yourself.You can try to put a positive spin on it by looking to ways to minimise its effect by learning as much as you can to treat it.

Share it with a close friend and start up a small group to discuss it, find ways to help you and others with the problem.

Finally lighten up –it’s not the end of the world. If people find out you’re an incontinence sufferer and reject you –so what! They weren’t much of a friend in the first place. A friend will look at ways to help others –at least that’s what friends are for.

And finally throw a little humour in. I know of plenty of women who hold positions of responsibility and men who do too .Nothing breaks things down quickler than a joke.

In summary

1. Relax you are not alone.

2. About 50% of people with it are under 50 years old.

3. Learn as much as you can about your type of incontinence.

4. Work towards treating yourself-the doctors’ help only goes so far-it’s not easy to start but it will get easier and you will get better. It’s never too late to learn.

5. Join discussion groups’ online, share with a close friend, try to open up a bit about it –carefully to start with.

6. Live as normally and as well as you can.

7. Humour is the best medicine.

8. Finally be gentle with yourself –the world is far too harsh and heavy on all of us we don’t need ourselves to bury us even further in the ground.

9. Laugh a lot-its great medicine and covers a multitude of problems even if there's the odd accident because of it.

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