Even though Valentine's Day has passed, I thought I would address an issue a very dear patient of mine recently raised; how do you date and meet someone new when you have incontinence?
She is recently single and ready to hit the dating scene after a bit of a hiatus. She has had problems with incontinence and has required several surgeries and medication but she reports she is 99% better than when I met her a year ago. She has gained a lot of confidence over this past year, but is still nervous about meeting someone new. Her concern is how to explain her medical condition to someone new.
Her concerns and worries are definitely legitimate. I mean, how do you explain it to someone you are just getting to know? It's hard enough to talk to loved ones and close friends about incontinence, what about a virtual stranger. How about when you start to get intimate? Sexy undergarments are pretty much out of the question for many, right? I really never thought about this issue that much because no one has really talked to me about it.
It got me thinking, and I started to think about all of the patients I see for all kinds of reasons. Being a urologist, I see people with all kinds of sensitive medical conditions. I not only see people with incontinence, but erectile dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, chronic pelvic pain and a host of other problems. Most of these people feel alone in the world with their medical problem and I always try to tell them that I see many patients with similar issues.
I often recommend they look online for online support groups. I think people can find a lot of comfort when they find out they are not alone, and there is a lot to be learned from other people who share similar experiences.
The other thing, which I think is pretty important to remember, is that this new person in your life has his or her own issues too. Like I was saying, I see so many patients with so many personal and sensitive health issues that I realized almost everyone has something going on; they just don't talk about it. This isn't meant to downplay what you may be experiencing, but remember, you don't know what the other person is going through privately either.
Finally, in my opinion, if this new person in your life isn't sympathetic to your MEDICAL CONDITION, then he or she wasn't the right one for you anyway! Good luck dating out there!