It’s a taboo, in fact almost a secret subject, one that affects so many women and yet no one wants to talk about it because it’s embarrassing! It can be particularly prevalent during the menopause, when oestrogen disappears and leaves a trail of devastation in its wake. We are talking life’s little leaks, or stress incontinence. However, all is not lost, there is much today’s modern woman can do to help the situation, and where we are now a nation of health conscious people, more natural solutions are always welcome.
Celebrity mum Carol Smillie created her own brand called DiaryDoll- underwear developed to help women of all ages with little leaks and build their confidence back up. We spoke to Carol about the importance of talking about pelvic floor weakness and what’s out there in terms of exercise and products that can help.
Why do you think stress incontinence is still considered a taboo in today’s society?
Let's face it, nobody (male or female) likes to think they've 'got to an age' where they're losing control of their bladder. There's a huge assumption that it only happens to the elderly, but stress incontinence is very different to incontinence. 1 in 3 women are affected and they can commonly be in their 20s or 30s. The good news is for most women it's totally treatable with exercise.
Why is there such a prevalence of incontinence among healthy women?
When we have babies, we're told to do our pelvic floor exercises, but the honest truth is that breastfeeding, exhaustion and general real life gets in the way, and we think it'll never happen to us because that's the kind of thing old ladies suffer from. In France, the hospitals are red hot on educating women when they have their babies, before they leave the maternity unit, but for some reason, we don't in the same way.
Why do you think people are gravitating towards more natural solutions to help their health and wellbeing?
We're all living in a world where everything, at some point, is deemed bad for you, so holistic natural solutions to many conditions are fast gaining popularity
Why is yoga such a big help for women with pelvic floor weakness?
It's low impact and focusses strongly on your core. Pelvic health is very similar. Don't imagine for a minute that yoga is easy, it's controlled and I think, far better for your body.
You created your own brand of award winning technical underwear called DiaryDoll, so what made you want to help women in this way?
Initially it was set it up as a solution for my teenage daughter’s fears of leaking during their period. In the four years since, we have seen huge growth in the pelvic floor market, especially when we went into Boots and boots.com, as this is their fastest growing market! It irritates me that we can't all be more grown up about something that's so awkward to share with others. It's just a part of life and education is the only way forward.
How did it evolve from being underwear for women on their periods to helping women with pelvic floor weaknesses?
I've always been amazed that 'solution underwear' was so ugly and humiliating to wear. Who wants to wear an adult nappy just because you peed slightly when you were running? Make something pretty, with a secret Waterproof panel that is completely undetectable from normal underwear, and women won't mind wearing them. 20 years ago, we never had sports bras or Spanx, yet what woman doesn't own either now?
Why does stress incontinence affect a woman’s confidence?
Embarrassment, plain and simple. It's a really unsavoury topic to most people and there's too much finger pointing and shaming in the press.
Please tell us about your experience of working with Yoga and Pilates instructor Rose-Marie Sorokin on this project.
It's so great to work with like-minded women who understand both the problem and the solution. Rose-Marie sees women all the time who all have the same fears and concerns about this. I firmly believe that women are amazing, their bodies put up with a lot, but they are incredible at sharing and supporting one another in times of distress. It's all about team spirit, and it's one of the reasons Diarydoll has grown so quickly to where it is today
What advice do you have for a woman who suspects she might have a weakness in her pelvic floor muscles?
Number one - don't panic!
You're definitely not alone and you can most likely fix this yourself. Have a look at https://diarydoll.com/pelvic-floor/ for easy to follow exercises you can do at home or at work
What is next for you?
Who knows? If someone had told me 5 years ago I'd become a warrior for leaky ladies, I’d have laughed. A lot! I'd love to see our pretty clever pants become a global brand. We've had a lot of interest from around the world and already sell to retailers in 5 other countries, so who knows?