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A new survey by continence care company Ontex Healthcare has highlighted how negative attitudes towards bladder weakness leaves women feeling embarrassed, with many people discreetly shopping online and refusing to talk to close family and friends about their condition.

The new research reveals that the key word associated with bladder weakness is ‘embarrassing’ (82 percent) with just 5 percent saying ‘accepted’. Furthermore, just over half of respondents said that they associate bladder weakness with ‘unpleasant odour’.

The research also showed that this embarrassment is driving shopping habits with only half of women buying continence care products from supermarkets, with some saying they use the self-scanner and 39 percent ordering online to avoid embarrassment.

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In addition, women are seeking advice from GPs and healthcare professionals but not from their friends and family. The survey revealed that 41 percent of women go online for advice about bladder weakness and 40 percent turn to their GP or healthcare professional, but only two percent will turn to a friend.

Karen Irwin, Manager and Specialist Nurse for Bladder & Bowel UK, said: “While it’s reassuring that some women feel they can turn to a healthcare professional for advice, it is still less than half of the women surveyed.

“What’s more surprising is that in such a modern world where women seem confident enough to talk about almost anything, they can’t turn to their friends, family and partners on this issue – yet the NHS estimates that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence, so there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”

Bladder & Bowel UK is a national, confidential helpline managed by a team of Specialist Nurse and Continence Product Information staff, who can be contacted for advice on specialist services, product information and general advice on continence promotion.

Helen Seymour, Business Unit Manager from Ontex Healthcare, added: “We know this has always been a taboo healthcare topic and we want to encourage women to come forward and be more open about the issue.

“We want to make it easy for everyone to access the continence care and products that they need, however they choose to do so, at any age.”

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