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Navigating Intimate Relationships with Incontinence

Let's just get this right out in the open. Some people leak urine while being intimate and this leads to them avoiding sex.

Incontinence is characterised by the involuntary loss of urine or faeces, which can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. Incontinence can happen for several reasons, including but not limited to: 

  • increased pressure on your stomach - for example, because you’re pregnant.
  • damage during childbirth.
  • damage to the bladder or nearby area during a surgical procedure.
  • neurological conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as Parkinson’s.
  • certain medications, such as muscle relaxants, antihistamines, and diuretics. 

It is estimated that 14 million people in the UK have some degree of urinary incontinence

Although common, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person that has a problem as it’s often not spoken about due to stigma and fear of rejection, which can lead to more feelings of shame or embarrassment.

When one or both partners in a relationship are dealing with incontinence or leakage during sex, it can have an long term emotional and physical impact on their relationships.

Emotional Impact:

Individuals may experience shame, embarrassment, and a loss of self-esteem, which can affect their desire to engage in intimate activities. In addition, individuals may fear rejection or judgement from their partner, which can lead to anxiety and avoidance.

Physical Impact:

Incontinence can also have physical consequences. For some, the fear of leaking can make it difficult to relax and enjoy the moment. Certain sexual positions or activities might also become challenging due to concerns around incontinence. 

One study found that, of 356 women between 30 and 70 years old, 45% were abstinent from sex, with incontinent women in general having less sexual desire, foreplay, sexual comfort, and sexual satisfaction than their counterparts.

Another study echoed these results when it found that urinating during sex affects female sex life, with incontinent women having a lower frequency of sexual activity, and sexual and global satisfaction.

Here at Team Cheeky, we've been all about 'Simple Reusables' since 2008.  We've been helping people with incontinence since we launched our reusable incontinence products 8 years ago and in this article, we'll explore how individuals and couples dealing with incontinence can navigate intimate relationships with confidence. 

Talking About Incontinence With Your Partner

Incontinence can be an embarrassing problem, which might mean you want to keep it a secret from your partner. However, sharing your feelings, fears and needs can help make the problem smaller and more manageable.

If you are the one dealing with incontinence, take the initiative to talk to your partner about your condition. If you pee during sex, choose a comfortable and private setting, and be honest about how it is impacting your intimate life. 

If you’re in an intimate relationship with someone who experiences incontinence, help to create a non-judgmental and empathetic space for them to express their feelings.

Together, you can take the time to learn more about incontinence, and the causes, treatment options, and management strategies — such as those which we will share below.

Once you’re both up to speed, talk about your needs and boundaries. This might involve planning alternate activities or approaches to intimacy that can maintain closeness without triggering discomfort. 

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Managing Incontinence During Intimacy 

Managing incontinence during sex can be tricky, but it is more than possible. Here are our top tips for managing incontinence during sex: 


Try to plan intimate moments when your incontinence is likely to be at its lowest point. For some individuals, this might mean scheduling intimate activities earlier in the morning after your morning pee, rather than at night. You should also empty your bladder before sex, to reduce the risk and size of leaks. 

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Protective Products

Consider using incontinence products during intimate situations, such as a pair of incontinence pants - and don’t panic, these aren’t the ones that look like nappies! Incontinence underwear can look as “sexy” as your regular underwear, but will enable you to wear discreet protection, reducing the stress of leaks during sex. 

Try waterproof bedsheets, which don't mean crinkly rubber sheets! We have a range of incontinence sheets that go on top of your normal bedsheet and are available up in single, double and kingsize waterproof protective sheets. They're also great for heavy periods.

Train Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus (in women), and rectum. Strengthening these muscles by doing pelvic floor exercises with a pelvic floor toner can help improve bladder control for some types of incontinence. As an added bonus, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can give you more intense and pleasurable orgasms. 

Try Different Positions

Be open to trying different positions that minimise pressure on the bladder or bowels. Side-lying positions can prevent bladder spasms, for example.

Practise Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help with an overactive bladder by alleviating anxiety and stress, which are known triggers for overactive bladder symptoms. Practising mindfulness techniques before, during and after sex can help put you in control of your body's signals and sensations, helping you to enjoy the moment and avoid leaks. 

Light Candles

If you’re worried about any incontinence-related odours, light some scented candles or put on an essential oil diffuser to mask unwanted smells. A nice smelling space can also help to boost your mood, helping you to relax and relieve mental and physical tension. 

Outside of the moment itself, you might also want to join a supportive community or group. Being able to discuss incontinence with others who are dealing with urine leakage and avoiding bladder leaks can make you feel less alone. It can also help equip you with tips and tricks to manage incontinence during intimate moments, that you might not have otherwise thought of. Explore online communities, such as forums or Facebook groups, or speak to close friends about their experiences. 

Incontinence can be a challenging condition to navigate, especially in intimate relationships. If incontinence-related intimacy issues persist after following these tips, consider seeking the guidance of a medical professional who specialises in sexual health. 

If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to us, the team all use the products themselves and LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods.

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About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable period kits and reusable sanitary pads. Both she and the rest of the leadership team are now navigating menopause, with all the joys it brings!

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.