Incontinence: We need to talk about leaks

Incontinence: We need to talk about leaks

Anyone, of any gender, at any age, can leak urine or faeces. What would you do if it happened to you? Imagine if you’d woken up this morning and you’d wet the bed. What would you do? Have a wash, put on clean clothes, change the bedding and put it in a washing machine? You may go to the shop and buy an incontinence pad. And perhaps if you knew that there was help available for leaking urine you’d make an appointment to see a doctor next week and then just carry on with the rest of your day, dignity intact.

Now imagine if you’d woken up this morning and you’d wet the bed. But to have a wash, or clean your clothes and bedding, you’d have to walk for an hour to collect water. Imagine you are frightened to walk there alone, the path is steep and you struggle to use the hand pump. Even if you did get water, you don’t have enough soap so the smells would linger anyway. And after all that effort, you have nothing to wear to soak up urine if it happens again. What if you didn’t know that leaking urine was common, and you spent the rest of the day worried about your health and too embarrassed to go to work in case people could tell? What if you were worried that your partner would hit you again for making a mess so you had very little to drink all day for fear of it happening again? What can you do to support people living with incontinence? To start, we need to talk about leaks.

The Sanitation Learning Hub's Frontiers of Sanitation series provides practical, evidence-based guidance and recommendations on essential emerging issues and approaches to programming and learning.

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