Accidentally wet your pants? You’re far from alone
Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Romo and Kris Jenner are recognizable household names, but there might be one thing folks don’t know about them: They all struggle with incontinence.
There are two types – fecal incontinence and urinary incontinence – characterized by the inability to control when you have to go. It is so highly stigmatized that people don’t openly talk to their doctors or loved ones about their symptoms, so it’s difficult to accurately state the prevalence of incontinence.
However, according to recent studies, approximately one in every two women and one in every six men experience symptoms of urinary incontinence, while one in every 11 women and one in every 14 men experience symptoms of fecal incontinence.
“People feel a lot of shame when they realize they don’t have control over their own bodies, especially when it comes to when they use the bathroom. Incontinence can be paralyzing for people, and often they feel like they have to suffer with this condition in silence,” says Dr. Joaquin Estrada, a colorectal surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, which offers comprehensive continence treatment with patient navigation.
There are several things that might increase your chances for incontinence. Increasing age is one of the most common reasons you can become incontinent. Women are also more likely to struggle with urinary incontinence due to pregnancy and menopause. Other risk factors include dietary triggers, organ prolapse, surgery or trauma.
Fortunately, there are a wide range of interventions and treatment options available, from physical therapy, device implantation and injections to surgery.
“What I really want people to know is the importance of having that open and honest conversation with their doctor and loved ones so that they can regain control,” Dr. Estrada says. “We can treat incontinence, and the condition can be managed, but let’s start with open honesty first.”
About the Author
Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.