According to the American Urological Association, more than 30% of females between the ages of 30 and 60 suffer from urinary incontinence. Translation: If you are dealing with leakage, you are far from alone. That said, it can certainly feel like an isolating experience. After all, pee issues can be embarrassing. Making them all the more mortifying is the fact that they can happen at inopportune times—like during sex or when you laugh a little too hard on a romantic date.
Which brings us to an important point: You’ll feel way less alone if you talk to your partner about the fact that you’re dealing with incontinence. See, while it’s tempting to keep quiet about this issue to avoid an unpleasant convo, getting this dirty little secret out in the open can actually be a huge relief. Not only will you feel better not having to hide something so major, you can divert the energy you were spending on keeping it hush-hush and focus on ways to resolve the incontinence. So, how do you bring it up? Below, we outline a few strategies to make it a lot less uncomfortable for you both.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Timing matters. Think about it: If your partner has just had a stressful day at work, they may not be in the best mindset to be a supportive listener. Likewise, if you have a zillion other things on your mind, you may not be able to express yourself as clearly as you’d like. Instead, find a time you feel both calm and connected. Some people say that after sex is a good time because you tend to not have anything else on your mind and you’re feeling extra bonded.
If you feel really uncomfortable, the car may also be a good place. You’re sitting side by side closely, but you won’t have to make eye contact. This can help some people feel less self-conscious so they can focus on the words you want to say.
Don’t Beat Around the, er, Bush
We get it, talking about wetting yourself isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It may be tempting to be vague in the hopes that your partner will fill in the blanks. But that leaves open the possibility that whoever you are telling may not fully understand what you are trying to express, resulting in you both feeling frustrated.
You’ll be better off speaking clearly and concisely. Tell them that you’ve been dealing with incontinence—you can even explain what that means if you want to. Once you get over the initial hump of saying those words, it will get easier.
Be Clear About Your Needs
Are you hoping your partner can lend a supportive ear? Or maybe you want them to help you research potential solutions? Or perhaps you’re looking for someone to cover for you if a pee situation arises in public? Whatever type of support you’re longing for from a partner, you’ve got to let them know.
As obvious as you may think your needs are, your partner isn’t a mind reader. It’s better to clearly review your needs so that they actually get met. Not sure how to start? Simply say, “It would be really helpful if you could…”
It Doesn’t Have to Be One and Done
Just because you finally talk to your partner about your incontinence, doesn’t mean you have to discuss it all the time. But it also doesn’t mean you can never speak about it again—it should not feel like something that has been crossed off a list and can’t be revisited.
Leave the door open. If you are feeling particularly down one day about your situation, open up to your partner about it. If there’s a change in your symptoms or you want to celebrate that you haven’t had a leak in a while, tell them! When you have a supportive partnership in place, dealing with incontinence will feel much less insurmountable.