How to Talk About Your Overactive Bladder
"Incontinence" isn't a word we want in our personal health vocabulary.
Unfortunately, especially for those with Overactive Bladder Disorder, the term comes into play with urge incontinence and urinary incontinence.
You've talked with your doctor, so now is time to talk with those closest to you. Telling others about might be a seemingly-embarrassing point, but it's an integral part of keeping one less thing on your mind.
Telling those close to you about your OAB will help you feel more comfortable excusing yourself in the middle of a dinner. It might even help you have another set of eyes looking for a bathroom.
While it might be a potentially-embarrassing conversation to start, it's important to remember that it could possibly be harder to talk about it than for someone else to accept it.
When it's time for the discussion, you don't need to broadcast it. Choose a comfortable, private spot free of distractions. Avoid telling them over the phone because something like a simple pause could be misinterpreted.
Whether your family, partner, friends or co-workers, don't feel compelled to disclose information if you're uncomfortable or if you feel the other person isn't being compassionate and supportive.
With professionals estimating that as many as one in six adults in the U.S. suffers from some form of OAB, know you're not alone in this conversation.
How to Tell Your Partner:
Since your partner has a very intimate and personal relationship you don't share with anyone else, you might want to spare the nitty-gritty details on the initial conversation. But as with any romantic relationship, the more you're willing to share, the stronger your relationship could be.
But timing is everything: don't start the conversation when being intimate.
Explain the best you can what your physician has told you and how it could affect your life. Talk about changes it could make to your routine and lifestyle, such as limiting alcohol, other liquids and caffeine, and possibly other treatments determined by your physician. Assure them that OAB will be the reason should you have to excuse yourself from a romantic situation or why you get up during the middle of the night.
Answer the questions he or she might have the best you can: What kind of restrictions does this have on our relationship? What is needed to treat it? How will treatments affect you? Is this contagious? How does this affect intimacy? Does this affect having children?
Telling Your Family & Friends:
Bringing up your urinary schedule over Thanksgiving dinner isn't the best idea, but telling your loved ones is important to living with OAB. Whether you tell them as a group or individually, do as you see fit.
Like you will with your partner, explain your disorder, lifestyle changes, treatments, and anything else relevant with your friends and family.
Let them know your OAB is the reason you might be timid of new places, and might not be in for long road trips without some pit stops. Ask them to be as supportive as possible.
Again, only share what you're comfortable with, even if they ask for all the details. They don't need to know about every trip to the bathroom or what the urges feel like.
Be prepared for the questions: Will this inhibit travel for visits or vacation in anyway? Will you need any kind of assistance? How big of an impact will this have on your life? Is this a genetic condition?
Telling Your Co-workers:
The workplace might be the trickiest of places to talk about your OAB. While you don't want to ignite water cooler talk, your conversation with co-workers should be designed to make things more comfortable for you.
Divulging medical information at work is a tricky area. It's best not to address specifics, especially medication, details of treatment, etc. Your employer is also liable in certain situations, so vagueness protects not only you but your boss, too.
The fewer unnecessary details you provide could be better to maintain a professional work relationship.
Depending on the nature of your work, explain only what would directly affect your co-workers, like needing to be close to a restroom if you work outdoors or having to excuse yourself from a meeting if you work in an office.
They might have questions, too. How will this affect your work? Will you be taking a leave of absence? Does this put you on restricted duty?
No matter who you tell, don't be embarrassed by what you have to say. It's your life and you should be able to live it as comfortable as possible.