Understanding Urinary Incontinence

6 Ways to Deal with the Stigma of OAB

Erica Sanderson Mar 5th, 2014 (updated Jun 16th, 2015)
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In addition to the day-to-day challenges, people with overactive bladder (OAB) also often deal with stigma and shame. Here are six tips for coping with that aspect of OAB.  

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Be vocal
Be vocal

Don’t suffer in silence.  Whether it’s at the doctor’s office or at a friend’s house, speak up about your OAB needs, including what does or doesn’t work. Inform those around you about your needs and how they can help. People won’t know you’re dealing with this condition unless you tell them.  

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Channel your feelings
Channel your feelings

Living with OAB can be stressful, scary, and infuriating. Don’t be ashamed of these emotions. They’re normal and healthy. Accept any emotion that may arise, but don’t let it control you. Instead, channel that feeling into something useful—yoga, writing, advocacy, painting—whatever outlet helps you to cope and move forward.

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Support system
Support system

You can’t do everything on your own, including dealing with OAB. Have a person(s) you trust that you can go to for support without judgment. This support system can be an OAB support group, a best friend, a spouse or a doctor. They can offer advice, lend an ear or help you manage your condition.

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Educate the uninformed
Educate the uninformed

People who stigmatize those with OAB often don’t understand the condition. Help change this by sending them links to appropriate websites, hand out educational literature or just take the time to  explain what it means. They may not want to hear it, but you should at least try to educate them.  And, most importantly, learn for yourself what OAB is and how it affects your body.

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Fight back
Fight back

Take power into your own hands and make a difference not only for yourself, but for the entire incontinence community, by joining an advocacy group. As an advocate, you can help organize fundraisers, encourage medical funding and reform, and inform society. Two great options are the National Association for Continence and the Simon Foundation.

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Lead by example
Lead by example

Inspire those around you and others who have incontinence. Continue to live life to the fullest and dare to go outside your comfort zone. Defy people’s expectations of what is possible with OAB. Don’t let the stigma win. While you can’t control how others react to your OAB, you can control how you react to them.