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How To Discuss Incontinence With Those Close To You

How To Discuss Incontinence With Those Close To You

Incontinence affects a large part of the population, but many people still hesitate to talk about it.

The Urology Care Foundation1 reports that approximately 25-33% of Americans deal with urinary incontinence.

If you suffer from incontinence, talking about these matters more openly with people close to you can help ensure you have the help and understanding you need. Even if you're on the other side of the situation, you may want to make others feel comfortable talking about it as well. 

This article will walk you through the basics of incontinence, and the best ways to ask for and offer help. We will also discuss some products that can help in managing incontinence, while ensuring a comfortable overall experience. 

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is a condition that affects the urinary system. However, it is more than just a physical condition.

Incontinence can also affect the emotional, social, and psychological life of a person.

Normally, the bladder stores urine produced by the kidneys until we are ready to urinate. However, sometimes, part of the urinary system can malfunction, leading to incontinence. It results in leaking of urine that a person may not be able to control. 

What Causes Incontinence?

The causes of incontinence can be vast, and stem from many different causes. Sometimes, it ranges from infections like urinary tract infections (UTI), vaginal infections, and irritation. In other cases, consumption of certain medications or diuretics can also be an underlying cause. 

Some common health problems like constipation may worsen and lead to incontinence. The same goes for serious health issues like obesity, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Zoom call to discuss incontinence with relative

Additionally, other common causes of urinary incontinence are related to the bladder2. These include: weak pelvic floor muscles, tumors in the urinary tract, weak or overactive bladder muscles, and pelvic organ prolapse.

Apart from problems in the bladder, urinary incontinence may occur in women due to menopause, pregnancy, childbirth, or hysterectomy.

Whereas, in men, some of the primary causes are related to the prostate gland. These include prostatitis, enlarged prostate gland, or muscle damage from surgery.

Why is it Embarrassing to Discuss Incontinence?

Having to wear a diaper can be odd and humiliating for nearly everyone at first. We are afraid that losing control of our intimate functions has made us less of an adult, and that others may mistake our incontinence for childishness.

It takes some time to understand that there is nothing we can do about it, that it is not our fault, and that it does not devalue our maturity. It can seem unfair that incontinence and the use of adult diapers are associated with a social stigma.

Everyone who is new to diapering is concerned that people will notice that they are wearing one. With practice and time, it gets easier. Patting or stroking the diaper region often to check whether it has dropped or if it is bulging may draw attention to it.

There is good news, however: some believe that due to the rise of internet forums, it has become easier to discuss than ever before anonymously online. 

How Can Someone Discuss Incontinence with Close Friends and Family?

People who deal with incontinence often keep their struggles to themselves, preventing them from seeking help and getting treatment.

It takes a lot of courage to open up about the condition. Here are a few helpful tips for you to discuss your incontinence with close friends and family.

  • Pick the right time, preferably when everyone is in a relaxed environment.
  • Stay calm and try not to get too defensive.
  • Explain what caused the condition (if you've already gotten a diagnosis).
  • Encourage people to ask questions openly to understand your situation better.
  • Discuss your options and plans for managing incontinence.

How Can Someone Ask About Incontinence Politely?

If you are on the other side of the situation, initiating a conversation may get awkward. Firstly, you need to make sure that the person struggling is completely comfortable around you.

Try to show the person that you understand their situation, and will be there for them. A half-hearted response — or even worse, judgment — will only make them feel more isolated.

Discuss incontinence with family


It's not just about acknowledging the condition; being supportive is equally important. Also, you should avoid saying things like "just wear a diaper" when someone opens up to you. You might end up coming across as demeaning.

Be extra careful and sensitive with the language you use, and try to maintain dignity at all times. You may not want to blame the person struggling with this problem.

If you want to learn more about their condition, politeness is key. Ask questions that can help you understand the severity of the struggles, and how you can support your loved ones.

What Do Incontinent Patients Tend to Need Help with Most?

As a caregiver, you should prepare for a few situations where people with incontinence generally need help. Counter-intuitively, since dehydration actually can make incontinence worse, being prepared with lots of water can be of help. Also:

  • Ensure that the restrooms at home or the care facility are accessible to the person.
  • Whenever you go out, keep a tab on where the restrooms are.
  • Prepare for nighttime incontinence in advance, as people often wake up in the middle of the night for help.
  • While traveling, pack all essential products that the person may require.
  • Help the individual recognize patterns and triggers.

What are Some Top Products to Manage Incontinence?

Dealing with incontinence can be troublesome at times. However, you can improve the experience of your loved ones with the help of the right products.

Norton Hurley offers many effective absorbent products that can help manage incontinence and restore a sense of normalcy in a person's life. 

1. Tranquility Select Unisex Incontinence Pad – Light Incontinence

 Tranquility Select Unisex Incontinence Pad, Light absorbency, Individually packaged

These anatomically shaped pads from Tranquility are an excellent pick for people dealing with light bladder incontinence. They are also suited for bladder weakness during pregnancy. These pads are soft on the skin and ensure utmost comfort.

Since these pads are individually wrapped, they promote hygiene while also being easy to carry around on the go. Besides, they do not have any unpleasant fragrances, so that you can feel fresh throughout the day.


  • Offers a rash-free experience
  • Moisture-proof backing allows the pads to be used in regular underwear
  • The cotton-like fabric soaks in a lot of moisture
  • Fluid diffusion channels ensure dryness and comfort
  • An adhesive strip keeps the pad in one place
  • Can be used overnight

2. ProCare Plus Protective Unisex Pull Up Underwear – Heavy Incontinence

 ProCare Plus Protective Unisex Pull Up Underwear, Heavy absorbency, Breathable

These heavy absorbency pull-up underwear pieces are great for people that like to partake in active lifestyles. They provide complete coverage, and come in different sizes. The underwear is almost indiscernible.

Its tag-less back label allows easy differentiation between the front and back sides, while the discreet packaging and delivery ensures privacy and security.


  • Fluff polymer filler on all sides improves flexibility
  • Porous backsheet enables proper circulation
  • Quick Wick action offers quick absorbency
  • Breathable materials allow comfort and wellness by reducing heat build-up
  • Unscented and can be used overnight

3. Select Soft n' Breathable Tabbed Brief – Heavy Incontinence

Select Soft n' Breathable Unisex Tabbed Brief, Heavy absorbency, Breathable sides

Select's Tabbed Briefs are made with the best materials to ensure a comfortable experience. They offer heavy absorbency for both bowel and urine containment. It has inner leg cuffs that prevent leakage.


  • Moisture-proof backing prevents leakages
  • Soft and breathable sides allow free movement of air and protect the skin
  • Refastenable micro-hook closure tabs to adjust as and when required
  • Gentle leg elastics provide a secure fit

4. Caroli Men's Incontinence Guards – Level 2 Incontinence

Caroli Men's Incontinence Guards, Level 2 Absorbency, 11", Unscented

If you need guards to protect against leakage while being effective and discreet, the Caroli Men's incontinence Guards are a great choice. They are also suited for people that are usually quite active.

Its non-woven and laminated PE-film back sheet ensures fluids cannot escape so that you can stay carefree.


  • Anatomically designed for the male body
  • Unnoticeable when worn
  • Odor locking technology neutralizes foul smells
  • The air-permeable top layer doesn't harm the skin, per dermatologic testing
  • Powerful absorption core can hold up to 24 ounces of fluid 
  • Adhesive backing keeps the pad in place


What is the biggest effect of incontinence on a person psychologically?

If incontinence is not properly treated, the incontinence sufferer may face emotions of rejection, social isolation, dependence, loss of control, and body image issues.

What lifestyle changes can you make to deal with incontinence?

Drink lots of water, eat a high-fiber diet, exercise frequently, establish excellent bathroom habits, and adopt healthy lifestyle choices to avoid urinary and fecal incontinence.

Is caffeine bad for incontinence?

Caffeine is the culprit in coffee and tea. It may increase bladder activity, leading to worsened symptoms such as increased urine urgency and frequency, as well as incontinence.

Can incontinence underpads be used for pets as well?

Yes, the same underpads used by people can be used for dogs as well. Indoor pups can be trained to use the underpad to keep your home cleaner when you're too busy to walk them.


Alternative uses for an underpad

Closing Thoughts

Many people with incontinence are embarrassed to talk about their condition3. It might stop them from getting the help that they need.

Starting an open dialogue about incontinence is crucial to ensure that everyone gets the support and care they need.

Whether you are dealing with incontinence yourself, or you want to understand someone else's situation, remember that being considerate goes a long way. Encourage two-sided conversations to understand the other side better.


  1.  "What Is Urinary Continence?" Urology Care Foundation
  2. Tran LN, Puckett Y. Urinary Incontinence. Updated 2021 Aug 11]. In: StatPearls Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
  3. Luber K. M. (2004). The definition, prevalence, and risk factors for stress urinary incontinence. Reviews in urology, 6 Suppl 3(Suppl 3), S3–S9.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is purely for educational purposes and should not be used in place of the advice of your doctor or physician.