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Incontinence: It’s a hush-hush condition that’s often whispered about behind closed doors or not all, but actress, screenwriter, and best-selling author Busy Philipps isn’t afraid to talk about it loud and proud — especially as someone who’s experienced it firsthand.
After giving birth to her two daughters, Birdie and Cricket, Philipps, 40, experienced a whole slew of bodily changes, from an expanded ribcage (“It never quite goes back to where it was before you had kids!”) and inverted nipples to suddenly not being able to sneeze without peeing. “When I was postpartum, I really had this bladder incontinence,” she recalls to FIRST for Women. “There’s all kinds of stuff that we deal with and I think that people have been sort of conditioned to feel as though they’re not allowed to speak to [it].”
She certainly wasn’t alone: For all of the taboo surrounding loss of bladder control, it’s extremely common. Roughly 25 million Americans deal with the condition — more than half of which are women — especially during pregnancy. In fact, a 2013 study in the International Urogynecology Journal found that 4 in every 10 mothers will be affected by incontinence.
And yet, rather than using a liner, an incontinence pad, or leak-proof panties, liners or washable incontinence pads to help curb the issue while working to get back in shape at the gym, Philipps was making due with an extra pair of leggings because she thought she had no other options. “Here’s what’s annoying to me,” she says. “I honestly didn’t know that these products were available for women such as myself. I didn’t know that a 34-year-old new mom could benefit from [them].”
The tool she wishes she’d had in her back pocket? Poise Impressa bladder supports ($31.49, Target).
A soft, flexible product made from medical-grade silicone, the Impressa, which comes in three different sizes for comfort, can be inserted with a smooth applicator (just like a tampon) to temporarily cease stress urinary incontinence leaks for up to 12 hours. “It kind of presses against your urethra to help control and prevent leakage,” the White Chicks star explains. “That to me is so incredible. I think a lot of women have that, ‘I don’t want to wear a diaper’ [mentality]. I wish I had had this!”
It’s the first over-the-counter internal product cleared by the FDA, gynecologist-tested, and, if the reviews are any indicator, it’s also plenty beloved by users, who have given these supports a five-star rating at Target.
“I would give it 10 stars if I could,” wrote one shopper. “Like many women, after having three kids, I leak urine if I sneeze, do jumping jacks, run, or similar. Very depressing and definitely curtailed my physical activity. These look like crazy-shaped tampons and gently press from inside to keep you from leaking. I think I could go on a trampoline and be fine! Honestly, life-changing. I can exercise with confidence.”
That confidence is exactly what spurred the former Busy Tonight host to partner up with Poise on “It Takes Poise” — a stigma-busting campaign aimed at reducing the secrecy and shame surrounding incontinence and nixing any insecurities that may stem from bladder leakage.
“We’ve sort of been programmed since we’re little that we don’t talk about our bodies and the things our bodies do, and obviously, that’s insane,” Philipps quips. “It is … an issue that affects 1 in 3 women, and not all of them are older.”
As she points out, opening up the conversation is something that will greatly benefit women of all ages. “I do feel older women have held onto a lot of that shame and stigma for so many many years,” she says. “[It’s] been so ingrained in us from culture and society. … It’s so important to remember that not only are you not alone in what you are experiencing.”
After all, as Philipps puts it best, “There is no shame in being a human.”
Where to buy: $31.49, Target
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