Wed 29, May 2019
A new website to help up to 60,000 Australian teenagers with bladder and bowel problems, was launched today at the National Conference on Incontinence.
“Incontinence is commonly dismissed as an issue that affects older people or women who have given birth, however research tells us that between 1 and 3% Australians aged 13 to 18 experience some form of incontinence,” said Rowan Cockerell, CEO Continence Foundation of Australia.
“This can have a debilitating effect on a young person’s quality of life, particularly their physical and emotional growth as they go through a period of rapid development on the cusp of adulthood.”
The Incontinence in Confidence project was developed after identifying a significant gap in online resources aimed at supporting teenagers living with incontinence; including daytime urinary incontinence, bedwetting and faecal incontinence.
20-year-old Brisbane model, Anja Christoffersen, was born with VACTERL Association - a collection of birth defects that cause Vertebral abnormalities, Anorectal malformations, Cardiac problems, Tracheo-oesophageal fistula, Renal anomalies and Limb abnormalities. Those born with VACTERL are diagnosed with three or more of these conditions.
“To look at me you would think I am a normal, carefree young person without a worry in the world. Behind the scenes, behind my smile, I have daily struggles with chronic health issues. I underwent my first of many surgeries when I was just 5 hours old. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals. I am affected by vertebral abnormalities, a single kidney and a ‘plumbing problem’. In terms of bowel function, my diagnosis meant that I didn’t have an anal sphincter, muscles, rectum or nerves, so I’ve been incontinent my whole life.”
“When I was growing up, incontinence was something that was considered a taboo subject. It wasn’t discussed as openly as it is now,” said Anja.
Incontinence in Confidence supports teenagers at all stages – from those who have never seen a doctor for continence concerns, through to people who have been diagnosed.
The new website covers a wide range of content including: what incontinence is, who it affects, the benefits of starting and persisting with treatment and relevant pathways to engage with different health professionals. There are tips for building confidence, mental health support, dating and relationships, as well as managing incontinence during sports and sleepovers.
“We are proud to present a resource that is a game-changer for adolescents seeking answers about their continence concerns. Incontinence in Confidence means young people can now go to a credible source of information in the quest to improve their quality of life,” said Mrs Cockerell.
For more information, go to inconfidence.org.au or call the free National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66.