Incontinence: unsexy, unstylish, unspeakable?

Incontinence, style and underwear

In The Times, 2 days ago, Dr Mark Porter wrote an article, What can women do about incontinence?  The article is mainly about medical definitions and solutions to managing incontinence  – click the link to read it but it is behind a paywall.  The topic set me off thinking, as I do, about style and incontinence.

Gods, if it’s tricky finding decent underwear when you’re plus sized, what must it be like if you have an incontinence problem?  And as for incontinence aids – yuck, all those I’ve seen are in ghastly flesh and white tones of ugly!  Am I wrong here that my perception of incontinence is that it’s not a sexy topic, has no reference to style and no one ever talks about it in those terms?

Yet, the numbers are startling.  From The Times article:

If you have ever wondered why there are so many adverts for pads promising to keep women “fresh and confident throughout the day”, you need look no farther than new guidance for doctors on the management of female urinary incontinence. Millions are affected, with most of them suffering in silence and resigned to dealing with the aftermath, rather than the cause of the problem. Or, to put it another way, incontinence pads are big business.

About five million women in the UK are troubled by incontinence to some degree and, contrary to stereotypes, they are not all “old ladies” — many of the women I see are in their thirties and forties. Indeed, NICE estimates that about one in five of all women over the age of 40 are troubled to some extent.

… if you are struggling to control your bladder then talk to your GP or practice nurse about the alternatives to wearing a pad for the rest of your life. Not every woman can be helped, but most can.

But what about those who can’t and do have to live lives just getting on with it?  As ever, the implicit, unsaid inference is for them to crawl away and hide, the poor things!

Is this a subject that resonates with you and have you found stylish solutions to managing your own incontinence?   Do you sing the praises of being catheterised and know where the best and most discreet aids are to be found?

I did a quick internet search, concluding that the style solutions for incontinence need a lot more research as there was nothing there I’d be happy about … unless you know better?  Ok, it may never be a sexy topic but talk to me, share your style tips with others and let’s all live a better quality of life.


  1. spashionistareport

    There are a handful of “prettier” adult diaperesque products here in the US. This is not a problem I suffer from, but I like to think that as the senior population increases demand will stimulate innovation in this area of clothing.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

    1. Elle@plusblack

      Hi Alicia, I agree. Luckily, I do not use these products either but I do have friends who do and it’s not pretty. I am doing some product/retail developments behind the scenes here so if you have any links to the prettier sites, I’d love to have them. Thanks a lot & have a good weekend. Elle.

  2. spashionistareport

    Elle, there are two that come to mind. One is Depends brand. They ran a recent add campaign showing their product as sleek enough to be worn under trousers and available in peach, pink and white. The other company had actual, removable inserts for a Spanxlike panty. However, I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the company! I think it’s safe to say there’s room in this market for better products.

      1. Spashionista

        The scary thing is those are great improvements from the original styles! Cling wrap, a pad, and duct tape would be sexier. Keep us all posted as to your progress 🙂

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