Dear Depend and Poise: A Challenge

Last week a post on incontinence crossed my desktop. It came from a topical blog that regularly tackles issues for its audience of middle-aged and older adults. The author disclosed that this particular post was sponsored by Depend Incontinence Products. Paid post or not, I think that the author was earnestly sharing a perspective from her personal experience and truly intended to share an option that other incontinence sufferers might benefit from. Her intentions were stellar, but unfortunately her awareness of options that are out there was limited. She was simply representing the commonly held understanding that incontinence is a “normal” inevitability and manageable if you just wear a pad. The blog included this video of a young, vibrant woman who was sharing her experience using the discrete underwear in the Depend product line. She encourages women to “embrace” incontinence and that she had finally accepted it as “a part of me”. Her video really breaks my heart, I know she has other options. Incontinence doesn’t have to be a part of her.

Both Depend and Poise say they sell “confidence” by helping you manage leaks. I am selling a different kind of confidence. Here is the comment I left on the blog:

“I know this is a sponsored post, and I appreciate the intent is to offer options to the large population of women who experience incontinence daily. But I wanted to balance the idea of embracing this as an inevitable part of aging, or as “a part of me”  as Starkeisha noted above, with other choices. There are other options than simply managing incontinence by wearing pads. You can treat it, you can have power over it.

I am a physical therapist that treats this issue in women across the lifespan, with a special focus on those that want to return to leak-free fitness. There are physical therapists across both the US and Canada that treat this issue. You can find a women’s health physical therapy provider near you through these websites:  US  and Canada.

For those of you who have tried Kegels and have only been frustrated with how to do them or have not had a change in your incontinence, please understand that I am not suggesting Kegels as your only conservative approach to treatment. Women’s Health Physical Therapists have many more tools in their tool bags to help. Research in the last 5-10 years has helped us understand that strengthening the pelvic floor (such as with Kegels) doesn’t really mimic how the continence system works. It is the coordination of a team of muscles, not just the pelvic floor, that help us stay dry. It is the same system that helps us with a strong sturdy center (the core). Learning to balance those muscles and coordinate their teamwork is a new approach that moves us beyond Kegels and pads.

I have blogs and videos on my website that can give you additional information and hope would act as a gateway to more than living with this issue! You have options ladies, please consider treatment and conquering this vs just managing it with pads.”

Today, I am laying down a confidence challenge to Depend and Poise. I recognize that some of the folks you serve are beyond conservative or even surgical intervention due to disabilities, limited mobility, neurological disease or injury, dementia, etc. But there are many that choose absorption products because they do not understand that they have options, treatments exist, and they don’t have to “embrace” incontinence. They could actually be free of it.

If you are truly in the business of empowering women and giving them confidence, in addition to absorptive undergarments and pads, consider offering a product that would actually address the incontinence not just hide it, manage it, or embrace it. You could launch a very different ad campaign that went more like this: “We’ve got you covered until you learn to control the leaks”. Your new tagline could be “Depend: Supporting incontinence recovery”. This is a different message indeed: confidence that recovery is possible.

Why not add incontinence recovery products to your online offerings? Full disclosure, this is a sponsored post too. I have a webinar that teaches women step by step a new approach to incontinence that moves us beyond Kegels and pads. It is a series of 6 short self-paced videos that is intended for women to access and perform independently and discretely at home (DVD coming soon). Link here to some preliminary info on the research we did on the webinar.  85% of the women in the study saw an improvement in their symptoms in just 3-weeks. I am offering true confidence.

So Depend and Poise, who’s ready to take my challenge? Imagine the confidence a woman would feel if she  didn’t leak. Imagine the positive PR for you if you actually supported recovery, not embracement! Imagine if you used your powerful ad-voice to change this for women, not just manage it? What say you?

Ladies, you can take my confidence challenge too! What do you have to lose? Pads? Leaks? Worry? A drain on your budget? A 2-week supply of the Depend undergarment is the same price as the webinar. Invest in true confidence instead!



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10 thoughts on “Dear Depend and Poise: A Challenge”

  1. Melissa, PT says:

    So good, Julie!! That is exactly what I think every time I see one of those adds on tv – whether it’s Kris Kardashian or Tony Siragusa – both men and women need to know that the real solution is coming to see a PT and learning to use their muscles correctly. I think we’re probably cheaper in the long run!

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Thanks Melissa! Yes, I agree that we are likely cheaper in the long run, and we happily work ourselves out of a job. I WANT people to not need me anymore! I really hope women will start to think about this differently. Change is possible!! Julie

  2. Joanie Lehman, MPT NASM-CES says:

    Great post, Julie! I would be interested to hear what the response is from Depends and Poise.

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Thanks Joanie! I will let you know if they actually respond! Would be interesting for sure! Julie

  3. cjstewart says:

    There are so many reasons a woman may have this problem, it isn’t always fixable. Important life changing surgeries are available but are not always a permanent. Complications from mesh or slings often fail or cause other problems.

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Thanks for your input. I agree, and tried to highlight in the blog that there are issues that are beyond our ability to address with conservative measures. However, there are many women that do have an issue that can be changed. We have a lot of work to do to get the message out to those ladies and men that change is possible.

      Thanks Julie

  4. Julie, thank you for posting this! It is unfortunate that posts like the one you responded to are out there, however, it is also a great opportunity that provides a platform from which to educate! I am also a physical therapist and yoga therapist. I provide educational physio/yoga workshops about this exact subject. I enjoy your youtube videos and refer my clients to them. Hope to cross paths with you some day.

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Hi Shelly,

      Thanks for commenting. I honestly believe that the author was acting out of only the best intentions, and on her best understanding of the issues. I am always glad to connect with others trying to turn the tide, too! Thanks for sharing the videos with your clients, I appreciate it. Take care, and keep up the good work! Julie

  5. Thomas at Depend® says:

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you so much for initiating this discussion. The more incontinence and the disorders that cause it are discussed, the sooner we can break down the stigma that so often comes with it.

    To give you a bit of background on the people who generously appeared in our Depend “Real Stories” videos, all of them have either pursued treatment and found it didn’t eliminate their leaks or decided that the treatment options for their specific condition were more challenging to endure than wearing protection.

    We are committed to educating those with incontinence about all options, including pelvic floor physiotherapy, medications, surgeries and other methods. On and you’ll find that we have a series of educational materials that encourage people to seek out medical advice and treatment to see if they can minimize or even eliminate their bladder leaks.

    Fortunately, the absorbent pads and undergarments that we manufacture meet our consumers’ needs when they’re suffering incontinence, whether temporary or permanent. Our goal is to give them more confidence to get out and enjoy their lives, even if they leak a little.

    Again, thank you so much for initiating this conversation, Julie. We look forward to working closely with professionals like you to help those with incontinence get the help they need, in both therapeutic and practical ways.

    Warm regards,
    Thomas at Depend®

    1. Julie Wiebe says:

      Hi Thomas,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful and open reply to the blog. I have responded here:

      I look forward to working towards solutions for the populations we serve! Julie

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