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Intimacy and Incontinence, The New Taboo

2 min read

Have you come across TENA #Ageless spot recently? Their latest advert, filmed by Yorgos Lanthimos, director of the multi-award-winning movie ‘The Favourite’, featuring a series of women, all over the age of 55, discussing their bodies and experiences, has left viewers divided. Many older women admired the honesty of the advert and felt it was empowering, whilst many others, who the advert was not necessarily targeted at, felt this was an inappropriate video to be shown on TV. Whether you liked it or not (in the ad, we hear voice-overs from the women discussing how age has not dulled their confidence, senses or sex lives with reference to incontinence), the spot is a clear sign of change, as it grants older woman a spotlight in the media with regards to sexuality, which was previously denied to them.

At TENA we are on a mission to challenge the current perception that incontinence is something to be embarrassed about –Lisa Myers, marketing manager, TENA, says -. Our research clearly demonstrates that there is a huge disparity between younger and older women when it comes to understanding the realities of incontinence and its impact on sex and intimacy in later life. We created this film to celebrate older women and tackle the taboo around ageing and intimacy, collaborating with Yorgos to ensure the women featured felt empowered and that their perspectives and stories were accurately told.

The campaign is underpinned by TENA’s exclusive new research examining women’s attitudes towards incontinence and intimacy in later life. The study shows that confidence really does come with age. When asked, nearly half (44%) of women aged between 18 and 34 admitted that they do not feel self-confident, while 55% said they care about what others think of them. Meanwhile, when women over 50 were asked the same questions, 63% said they care less about what others think of them than ever before, and 66% stated that they feel more confident speaking their mind now compared with when they were younger.

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Sex is important to over 50s, with 47% saying they’d like to have sex at least once a week, while those who have experienced some degree of bladder leakage are twice as likely to own/consider a vibrator (19%) compared with those who haven’t (10%).

The study also found that 1 in 3 women over 50 enjoy sex in this phase of life as they better understand their bodies and pleasures: for these ladies, despite changes in their bodies, there is no reason sex in later life has to be less enjoyable from when we were younger, although it may mean adaptions to sexual activity have to be made to combat these changes.

A confidence gap still remains when it comes to bodily autonomy between those suffering bladder leakage and those who are not. Women who experience bladder weakness feel less confident in themselves when it comes to initiating sex (37% v 46%), which is why TENA want to break down the taboos surrounding intimacy and bladder incontinence and prove to women that it should never get in the way of a healthy sex life.


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