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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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The Scariest Article You'll Ever Read About Your Ladyparts

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Jen Matlack
Redbook Magazine Logo
We open up about four hush-hush conditions -- from peeing your pants to ridiculously heavy periods -- that millions of women are suffering from in silence. Maybe even you.

This is tough to admit, but here goes: I'm 39, and I pee myself on a regular basis. No kidding; it's true. Since I gave birth three years ago (and practically pushed my brains out of my ears in the process), I pee my pants whenever I sneeze, cough, or laugh. It's annoying and demoralizing — once I soaked myself when a cat hair got stuck in my throat and triggered a coughing fury. Um, my toddler's the one who belongs in Pull-Ups, not me.

Not too long ago, though, a study came out that made me feel less like an anomaly (and a freak!). Research published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that as many as one in three women have one or more embarrassing "down there" issues, such as stress urinary incontinence (hand in the air, frantically waving — that's me!) and prolapse. And the study participants weren't just grandmothers (or even moms) either: Women with these troublesome issues can be in their 30s or even younger.

In fact, millions of women have a "down there" dilemma. Yes, millions. Unfortunately — though perhaps understandably — many of them keep these problems to themselves. "As much as women share with each other about personal issues, they still may consider pelvic disorders to be too taboo to talk about with their friends, their sisters, even their doctors," says Lauri J. Romanzi, M.D., a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and the author of Plumbing and Renovations. After all, what woman wants to reveal that she wets — or (gasp!) poops — herself? But breaking the silence is the first step toward getting help for these humiliating, often debilitating, but treatable conditions.

At the risk of embarrassment, I've decided to get the conversation started, because, well, I don't want to wet my pants forever! Here, four awkward questions you might be afraid to ask — and the reassuring answers that will improve your life (and restore your dignity).

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