#Oopsmoment – what do pelvic health physiotherapists really think about the phrase?
We sat down with Myra Robson, a senior pelvic health physiotherapist in the NHS, to find out just what she thinks about "oops moments". Here's what she share with us.
As a pelvic health physiotherapist, my job is to help people who leak urine regain confidence in their pelvic floor.
This includes everything from educating people about what their pelvic floor is and what it does to how to engage those muscles and how to relax them.
Most importantly, I educate people about what’s common vs what’s normal when it comes to pelvic floors. Two decidedly different things (and a point I’ll be coming back to).
I also help people put in place a plan that will help them on their road to recovery.
What I've learned from treating people with incontinence
First sessions with new clients are usually spent listening to their stories which can be difficult, emotionally raw and extremely personal.
It is because I’ve heard so many of these deeply personal stories, that I (and many of my colleagues working in pelvic health) dislike with a passion the lackadaisical use in the media of “Oops moments” when referring to incontinence!
Why "Oops moment" just doesn't cut it
It’s a phrase you see increasingly in advertising and on social media. The term is usually accompanied by images that dumb down the situation. Using slightly giggly, silly expressions and postures that relate more to having ‘one too many’ glasses of Prosecco at a party than an episode of incontinence. A depiction that is far from the truth.
In reality, leaking is a practical problem that you need to manage. And no one wants to leak urine! People who have experienced urinary leakage often feel annoyed, upset, embarrassed and a whole range of negative emotions.
The “Oops moments” message serves to normalise the condition and encourage acceptance.
Incontinence is common - not normal
While incontinence is common, it should never be considered normal. That is a message I, and many of my fellow pelvic health physiotherapists, want to spread far and wide.
However, there’s a paradox here which has given me food for thought.
Talking publicly about incontinence is positive
The use of #oopsmoment on social media has become a way for people who experience leaks to communicate publicly about their experiences.
It’s a step towards people understanding they are not alone. The use of the hashtag on social media is helping people who experience leaks connect with each other.
The crux of the "Oops moment" dilemma
"Oops moment" frames leaking in a way that’s just that part of life. Along with forgetting your keys or accidentally dropping your phone in the toilet.
The difference is people (generally) know how they prevent forgetting keys or dropping phones in the future. I’m not certain people know how they can prevent future leakage.
It really saddens me to see messages on social media where people say they should own shares in big brand incontinence pad companies because of how much they spend managing their leaking. That sounds like a person resigned to a way of life when that doesn’t have to be the case.
How can we move the conversation on?
It's a good question. I don't know the answer but want to leave you the questions I have been pondering lately.
How can we help make the connection between #oopsmoments and #doingsomethingaboutit? How can we help more people find out about what they can do to get rid of incontinence and banish those #oopsmoments altogether?
If you’re not sure what you can do about leaking, read our post Four things you can do when you are experiencing leaking.