Women need to fight stigma related to Overactive Bladder (OAB)

Olivia Robbin showed remarkable bravery. She recently posted a video on YouTube to talk about #OveractiveBladder (OAB). She said, “No one can live like this. We should not be hiding…I need to let people know that you are not alone. There is help, and you deserve to find help for this.” We need to move the dialogue past embarrassing stereotypes of people who wear adult diapers.   Women need to fight stigma related to Overactive Bladder (OAB).

Experience with OAB

It may come as a surprise to many that 1 in 6 Americans grapple with OAB.

This probably relates to a lack of public discourse about the condition. The World Health Organization has labeled it “one of the last medical taboos.” This silence contributes to underdiagnosis and untreated cases.

Research indicates that, on average, individuals endure the impacts of OAB for at least three years before seeking help. Embarrassment and the misconception that it’s a normal part of aging often deter people from discussing it. However, the consequences of OAB on work, lifestyle, sexuality, and relationships can be severe.  It can lead to feelings of embarrassment, shame, depression, and anxiety.

Using Education to Overcome OAB Stigma

To normalize conversations around OAB, advocates like Hollywood actress Holly Robinson Peete are crucial. Peete, who openly shares her experiences with OAB, encourages dialogue about the condition. “These symptoms were really keeping me from doing the life that I do on a regular basis,” she revealed in a recent NBC broadcast.

Peete’s efforts are supported by Urovant Sciences through the “Time to Go” campaign. This initiative aims to diminish stigma and suggest treatment options for this condition.  Peete expressed her wish for earlier intervention.  She said, “I experienced OAB symptoms for years prior to talking to my doctor about potential treatment options. I wish I had sooner.”

The campaign, led by Alana Darden-Powell, Vice President of Marketing at Urovant Sciences, focuses on educating and motivating individuals to discuss their OAB symptoms with healthcare providers.  She said, “This campaign was designed to educate and motivate more people to go to their healthcare providers and speak up about their OAB symptoms.”  “Through this campaign, we are aiming to help reduce the stigma around the condition by sharing Holly’s experience with OAB and its impact on her day-to-day activities.”

A related condition is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) where marketing and education programs were able to increase treatment of the condition dramatically.  We’ve seen remarkable progress in the lifting of stigma in many other conditions including Erectile Dysfunction, Depression and HIV.  Surely we can do the same thing for patients experiencing this condition.

Shifting the narrative around overactive bladder involves celebrating the courage of resilient people who navigate the challenges with strength and grace, transcending stereotypes. By highlighting their stories of resilience, we empower a generation to break free from outdated perceptions and foster a more inclusive and compassionate dialogue surrounding this condition.

Getting Insights To Address These Problems

AIM works with clients to understand the perspective of patients related to these stigmas.  Using research, we can “hear the voice” of the patient and help to address their needs.