Gemma Collins opens up about ‘taboo’ leaks – what is female incontinence?


Gemma Collins has opened up about her experience of incontinence – saying she first had it while playing with her nephew on a trampoline.

The former TOWIE star is fronting a campaign to help break down the stigma around the subject for women.In a TikTok for the BBC, Collins, also known as ‘the GC’, said: “It’s a taboo subject. It’s really sad to know that women are stopping doing their activities because of leaks.

“They might not want to go on holiday now because of their leaks. They might not want to get on a trampoline with their children or their families because of their leaks.”

Research by Always Discreet found that one in three women in the UK experience the condition and one in five do not know how to manage bladder leaks.

“I was so surprised to find out how many women, just like me, are also experiencing bladder leaks”, Collins told the PA news agency.

“In the past, I’ve held back on doing things I enjoy, like trampolining, riding a bike or working out, and dancing the night away with friends, because I was worried about bladder leaks. Since learning that pelvic floor exercises can help to manage them, and using pads for those moments when I need more protection, I no longer have to hold back.”

So, what is female incontinence and how can we treat it?

What is urinary incontinence?

“Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine,” said Helen Lake, clinical director and Urology Nurse at Peppy Health.

“The instance where a person loses urine control can be caused by physical triggers, which are classed as stress incontinence like coughing and sneezing or it can be caused by urge incontinence which is the sudden onset of needing to urinate.

“Overflow incontinence can also be caused by physical conditions that cause a blockage like fibroids impacting the bladder,” she explained.

Who does it impact?

“Incontinence affects women twice as much as men,” explained Lake.

“This is mostly due to the weakening of the pelvic floor from childbirth, and also from menopause in which a loss of oestrogen can weaken the pelvic floor.

Men also suffer from incontinence, and this is often related to the prostate where there can be surgical-induced stress incontinence, or urge and overflow leakage.

“Factors such as age can also impact the likelihood of having incontinence in both men and women,” she added.

Why does it happen?

It may down to pelvic floor weaknesses, but it could be a sign of bigger problems.

“Lots of things can cause incontinence, it’s important to always seek medical advice to understand why it might be happening,” said Lake.

“There are of course some typical reasons why, specifically women might lose bladder control, for example after having a baby.

In some rarer cases, incontinence can be indicative of an underlying health condition, she added. “Neurological conditions which affect the nervous system, and how the brain sends messages to the bladder, such as MS, Parkinson’s and even diabetes could be a cause.”

What can be done to treat it?

Lake said: “Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor for some patients and so weight loss may be a recommendation for some people, as it can help to remove excess pressure on the bladder.

“It’s also worth analysing what you are drinking on a daily basis in terms of volume and ingredients as some drinks can irritate the bladder such as those containing caffeine.”

Pelvic floor exercises are also very beneficial for stress incontinence and strengthen the pelvic muscles if done regularly. “Sometimes a referral to a specialist physiotherapist can help target these exercises more effectively,” she added.

Finally, depending on the exact cause of incontinence, you might be recommended “medication such as an anticholinergic” which calms down the bladder’s impulse to want to squeeze and empty.

“Unfortunately, there remains a lot of stigma and embarrassment around incontinence which can prevent people from seeking help,” Lake said. “There needs to be much more of an open conversation around it.

“Speaking out and sharing experiences is so important for changing the conversation on conditions like incontinence which affect so many people.”

To learn more about preventing bladder leaks, visit and for any concerns regarding bladder weakness or pelvic floor discomfort see your GP.


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