Shame and Embarrassment Are Preventing People From Curing and Managing Incontinence, Stats Show
Incontinence, also known as loss of bowel or bladder control, affects 200 million people worldwide— and yet because of the nature of the condition, people aren’t talking about it— preventing them from curing or treating an oftentimes manageable condition.
Lack of discussion, education, and empowerment surrounding overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, and faecal incontinence silences the millions of people experiencing symptoms worldwide, making them more prone to social isolation, low self-esteem, depression, and serious incontinence-related health issues.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), incontinence is a — generally — preventable and treatable issue.
“It is certainly not an inevitable consequence of aging,” they write. “The most typical reaction exhibited by patients when they are diagnosed with poor bladder control was not fear nor disbelief, but relief.”
In an effort to shine a light on the prevalence of incontinence (and the consequences of the culture of shame surrounding the condition), we put together need-to-know statistics about living with, treating, and seeking help for incontinence-related issues.
Incontinence affects more people than you realize
- Approximately 33 million Americans have overactive bladder (OAB). This means they experience frequent urges. While many people with OAB also experience incontinence, many do not.
- More than 25 million Americans are experiencing urinary incontinence.
- About 24% of women between 18 and 44 experience incontinence, compared to 23% of women over 60.
People aren’t seeking help for their incontinence issues
Urinary incontinence (UI) is under-reported and under-diagnosed. Due to stigma, the majority of people with incontinence aren’t seeking treatment.
- Two thirds of men and women see urinary incontinence as shameful.
- 70% of people with UI or OAB never seek help for the issue
- 67% of polled patients have never discussed bladder health with their doctor
- Two thirds of people with any form of UI never seek treatment or use any product to manage symptoms.
- Female patients who did seek treatment for incontinence waited an average of 6.5 years before doing so.
- Men are less likely to be diagnosed than women. Men are less likely to talk about their condition, and more likely to be uneducated about their symptoms.
- Less than 50 percent of women experiencing UI tell their doctors about their symptoms.
People are wearing the wrong products for them
- Finnegan medical supply conducted a study which revealed 39% of people using incontinence products are using the wrong type for them.
- 92% of the study’s 375 participants needed to be upgraded to a more absorbent product.
- Using products that aren’t absorbent enough can lead to major issues including compromised skin, urinary tract infections, and IAD (Incontinence Associated Dermatitis).
- Simply upgrading to a more absorbent product reduced skin-related health issues by 57% and pressure injuries by 14%.
Incontinence is often treatable
If you are experiencing incontinence, know that you are not alone and that your condition can be made manageable. Approximately 80% of incontinence cases can be cured or at least improved.
Go speak to your doctor as soon as you recognize symptoms. Your doctor may recommend you to a specialist to perform tests such as:
- Blood chemistries
- Urine analysis
- Cystoscopic examinations
- Bladder capacity tests
- Urethral pressure tests
- Sphincter condition tests
Treatment for incontinence varies because Incontinence is not a disease: It is the symptom of another condition. You can work together with your physicians to treat the source of the problem, lessening or curing your incontinence issues.
Seeking help for incontinence and other bladder and bowel-related issues will only improve your quality of life. You have no reason to accept inconvenience as a painful reality in silence— with the right products and treatment, it can become easy to manage without hindering you in any way.