Our 2019 Continence in Australia: A Snapshot report revealed some startling results on how incontinence affects people’s lives. The findings were part of a nationally-representative survey conducted by the Continence Foundation of Australia. Sue Blinman, Manager of the National Continence Helpline, breaks down the results and gives her advice.

62 per cent of Australians who currently experience incontinence, or have experienced it in the past, have not contacted a health professional.

People who call the National Continence Helpline often find our number by word of mouth and have not discussed their bladder or bowel problems with a health professional. This can be due to denial and not wanting to admit that one has a problem.

As my grandmother told me as a child, a problem shared is a problem halved. Getting help and speaking with your GP is the first treatment you should turn to. Fear of shame and embarrassment often prevents people from seeking treatment, but it is important to remember that there is no shame in incontinence or seeking help.

Over one-third (34 per cent) of adult Australians would not discuss incontinence with their family or friends.

Starting to discuss your bladder or bowel problems with family is often more difficult than raising it with your friends. Don’t feel pressured that you must talk about this with family. You can include who you want in your treatment choices for your incontinence.

Talking with someone can be beneficial to unburden yourself from the shame and embarrassment you may be feeling.

39 per cent are less confident leaving the house.

Some people are unable to leave their home for long periods due to fear of experiencing leakage in public. This is where incontinence products can help. Incontinence pads are a marvellous invention and today the technology behind their design is world-class.

They are designed to trap the urine in the Super Absorbent Polymers (SAPs). These SAPs start in powder form and when the urine leaks into the incontinence pad, the SAPs absorb the urine and swell – this is why the incontinence pad feels heavy when it is removed. The other function of SAPs is that they mask odour.

I know you can feel the incontinence pad on, but no one will know that you are wearing one. We are all different shapes and sizes and incontinence pads reflect this. A continence nurse advisor assessment can help with sizing to find the correct incontinence pad for you.

For extra confidence leaving the house, the National Public Toilet Map (toiletmap.gov.au website and app) is available to help you find and plan for public toilets across Australia.

Call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 to speak with experienced continence nurses who provide information, advice and local service referrals.

This story was first published in Bridge Magazine. Subscribe to Bridge online.