The Embarrassment Factor

Women are renowned for their ability to talk about almost anything, but research from continence care company Ontex Healthcare1 revealed there’s one subject that still doesn’t get talked about over a cup of tea or a glass of wine – bladder weakness.

The research revealed that nearly half of the women surveyed (48%) are too embarrassed to talk to their friends about bladder weakness yet only 18% are embarrassed to talk to their GP. In fact, women are more embarrassed to talk to their partner about bladder weakness than any other condition they were asked about.

So, who are women talking to? It seems that it’s their nearest and dearest who are the last people women will go to for advice or support with four in ten women saying they would seek advice about it from the internet, but only 2% saying they would go to a friend.

But what impact is this having on women’s lives? The research also revealed that:

  • Over half of women (54%) plan a toilet break on a day out versus 29% who plan a restaurant/café stop.
  • Bladder weakness has prevented 41% of women from undertaking activities they enjoy with 19% saying they avoid wearing tight clothes.
  • 44% said that certain physical activities cause their bladder weakness with 14% saying it has even stopped them playing a sport.
  • Nearly a quarter of women (21%) say that getting up to go to the loo does or would stop them sleeping in the same room as their partner.
  • Half avoid certain drinks as they are concerned it will make them go to the toilet more frequently and nearly a quarter (23%) avoid drinking tea.

In the UK, it is estimated that between three and six million people may have some degree of urinary incontinence2, so isn’t it time we all found it a little easier to talk about?

Karen Irwin, Manager and Specialist Nurse for Bladder & Bowel UK comments, “In our modern society it’s surprising that attitudes towards bladder weakness still aren’t really evolving and women don’t even feel they can talk to each other about it. I can’t stress enough that there really isn’t anything to be embarrassed about and just how important it is for women, and men, to seek advice and solutions if it’s holding them back and impacting their lives in ways that these results show."

In response to this Ontex has launched a new range of absorbing underwear for women to provide total confidence with no compromise on femininity.

Intime provides maximum protection and the low waist has been designed with discretion as well as comfort in mind, absorbing eight times its own weight, so that women won’t even know they’re wearing it.

The innovative hipster shape brings a perfect fit that works with any outfit, to provide a comfortable sensation and maximum wear-ability for the user. The thin core means that women will never feel a bulky sensation when wearing Intime.

With advanced odour control and dry-wear technology, Intime delivers 10 hours of freshness and a seamless fit with cotton-like fabric so it looks and feels like regular underwear.

The double anti-leak barriers are made up of anti-leak cuffs have been combined with soft hydrophobic (waterproof) side elastics that form a cup shape and fit securely to the body to provide maximum protection against leakage.

Alex Shaw, Marketing Manager for the UK and Ireland comments, “Due to the major population shift of the 55+ age group, it’s inevitable that there will be increased demand for this type of added value product from today’s modern consumer.

“We recognise the emotional challenge women face when they move from liners to pads and want to make this transition as smooth as possible. With Intime women will have discretion, comfort and flexibility and won’t feel like they are wearing incontinence pads.”

Intime is £13.99 (pack of 12) and can be purchased at, a wide selection of online retailers and independent retailers nationwide.

5 Top Tips for Managing Incontinence

  1. Fluid Intake

    Drinking sufficient fluids each day is essential for maintaining a healthy bladder. If you don’t drink enough your bladder will become overly sensitive. You should try to consume at least 1.5-2 litres (or 6-8 glasses) of fluids each day.

    If you don’t drink enough your bladder will become more sensitive to smaller amounts of urine, which means you will go to the toilet more frequently.

  2. Drinks to Avoid

    It is advisable to avoid certain types of drinks, such as tea, coffee, cola and chocolate, as they contain caffeine which can irritate the bladder. An irritated bladder becomes overactive, which makes you feel as though you need to empty your bladder when it is not full.

  3. Healthy Eating

    Your diet should be balanced, not too high in fat, with plenty of fibre, and contain at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Being overweight can make bladder problems worse.

  4. Smoking

    There are a number of health risks associated with smoking. A ‘smokers cough’ can place extra pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor, increasing your chances of experiencing stress incontinence.

  5. Inform Your GP

    It is a good idea to notify your GP if you are experiencing bladder weakness for the first time or if you already have bladder weakness and it has become worse.

1 Research conducted by Research by Design in October 2018 with 1000 women aged 35 – 75.


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Last revised: 22 June 2020
Next review: 8 October 2021