While some like to scoff at pop culture, we wouldn’t be who we are without it. Whether it’s a television show, movie, book, underground cultural phenomenon, or beauty product, there are certain events that changed the course of our lives. In our Life Changer series, we’re sharing the things that helped us become who we are today, and hopefully, inspire you to try them out for yourselves.
In case you weren't aware, November is National Bladder Health Month. As 20-somethings, bladder problems are not exactly table talk or coffee chat material. The fact that we can sort of engage in an open dialogue about things like sex and menstruation is groundbreaking, but most people aren't up for discussing the woes of urine. Right now is the time to stop being so embarrassed though—these are our bodies, let's get into the issues.
Over the past few months, I began to notice a change in the control of my bladder. It started with an increase in the amount of times I had to urinate throughout the day. At first, I could hold it for a while, but then it got to a point where I could see myself getting in trouble if I didn't make it to the bathroom within five minutes. I kept thinking that it must have something to do with what I was drinking, so I cut back on my intake of caffeinated teas. While this helped a little, it wasn't enough to stop the leaks from happening. I have a tendency to get hit with a big bladder burst at the most inconvenient of times, like while I'm riding the subway or walking home from the grocery store. The few times where a leak has sprung, I made it into my apartment building but not to the bathroom.
I know that I need to make an appointment with a urologist, but that means going through somewhat of a matchmaking process of finding the right doctor. If you search for ways to combat bladder issues on Google, a number of unappealing products pops up, and the few types of underwear that are offered are so far from cute. Panty liners can also be extremely uncomfortable, but I had to act fast because my bladder waits for no one. I am only 23 years old, but going through all this has made me feel more like a senior citizen.
In the meantime, I have been getting by with the help of Icon. The THINX sister brand promises to provide pee-proof underwear that holds up to five tablespoons of liquid, and I can attest to the fact that they deliver. The brand's mission is "to socialize how common this issue is, and empower women through content to understand why leaks happen and what they can do to help improve the issue."
The first email I received about the product came from Natalie Pattillo, content editor of Icon. She provided the following introduction:
The leakage taboo is manifesting in an interesting but different way. We tend to culturally brush off leakage as only a problem for the elderly, but it happens at all ages. The impact of women living with this silent shame is pretty heartbreaking. It impacts their sex life (25 percent avoid intimacy because of incontinence), their social life (more than 50 percent avoid social events), and their sense of self.
Pattillo wrapped up the message with this conclusion, which practically hit me in the gut: "Silence breeds shame, but unapologetic conversation creates connection :)."
Whether or not the product actually worked, I suddenly found myself confessing all of my struggles to this woman I have never met in real life. It was like she knew that I had been quietly suffering from this issue and had been sent to save me. I agreed to do a "dry run" of the panties, thrilled that there might be something to help me with my secret situation. Pattillo sent me three black pairs of the underwear in the bikini, hi-waist, and thong styles.
When I received my package of panties in the mail, I was beyond excited to put them on. At first glance, the only thing that threw me off was the padding for the lining. It's a little thick, so you definitely feel it while you're wearing the underwear, but it's not bulky, so you don't feel like you're wearing a diaper. It's not uncomfortable per se, but it takes some getting used to.
As expected, Icon's underwear is leak-free all-around and absorbs any and all drops of moisture, so you'll be dry all day. Another great feature about the underwear is that it is odor-free. I don't know about you, but I have a pretty strong sense of smell and my nose can pick up any odor from anywhere. But with Icon, I smell nothing. One thing that should be noted, though, is that this underwear is only guaranteed to prevent light leaks, so that's something to keep in mind in case your problem is more serious.
While I'm not shouting about finding a cure at the top of my lungs, I feel better knowing that I finally have a temporary solution. Icon has made me feel less embarrassed about my bladder, and more pro-active about looking into what's amiss with my body. For all I know, more of my friends could be suffering in silence too. The time to speak up is now! It's your body, so it's up to you to fix it.
Icon's pee-proof underwear ranges from $28 to $36. If your pair doesn't pass the "tinkle test" after up to 30 days of use, you can return them directly to Icon for a full refund. For further support with bladder problems, customers can also consult Icon's blog.