‘Peeing’ billboard tackles incontinence taboos


Incontinence is a health crisis plaguing British women. Research from women’s health brand, Elvie, reveals 84% of women in the UK suffer from mild or minor incontinence, yet no one’s talking about it and only 7% seek medical help despite the issue being easily solvable with pelvic floor training.

In a UK first, the ‘peeing’ billboard has been unveiled in London, two weeks after TikTok banned a video published on Elvie’s profile, showing Madi (@maddawglifts) leaking urine while weightlifting. Classing the videos as “graphic” content, TikTok has also previously removed videos from Madi’s profile.

On a mission to bust taboos around incontinence and encourage women to seek help, the billboard is part of Elvie’s #LeaksHappen campaign.

The campaign was inspired by experiences of women such as Madi, and 28 year old Megan Burns, who is the star of the billboard. The 28 year old, mum of two from Cornwall, proudly displays a urinary leak while working out in the gym.

Megan started experiencing urinary leaks when she went on her first run, postpartum. She commented: “I was so nervous about being featured on a 10 foot high billboard with wet leggings. But we have to break the stigma around incontinence because it can hold women back from doing the things they love.

“I was determined to get back into running after having a baby. I spoke to a physio about the leaks I was experiencing, and they told me to use a tampon to help strengthen my pelvic floor.

“This was dangerous advice as you shouldn’t insert a tampon when you’re dry, and it was very uncomfortable. I found consistent pelvic floor training was the right solution. As it stands, there’s so little education around incontinence and how to solve it. This needs to change.”

Incontinence can particularly affect women who take part in high impact sports such as trampolining, gymnastics and running, which have reported rates of incontinence up to 80%.

Despite so many women experiencing incontinence, Elvie’s research revealed 46 per cent of women do nothing to look after their pelvic floor health. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of women who suffer from incontinence said they feel disgusted with themselves, while 10 per cent of women feel alienated because they are made to feel alone.

On average, it takes women seven and a half years to seek help for the condition. A recent UK Government report revealed the extent of the gender health gap affecting women nationwide. The report found eight in ten women felt they were not listened to by healthcare professionals, which may explain why women put off seeking medical support.

Tania Boler, CEO and founder of Elvie, commented: “Incontinence is often stigmatised but it’s something that affects women of all ages and stages; from many different walks of life, and the lack of education—even within the medical world—prevents women from understanding how to access the solutions they need. Incontinence is common. But, it is in no way a reflection of how inherently brilliant women’s bodies are and everything they’re capable of. Women need the right tools to solve the problem, so that incontinence doesn’t have to be endured.”

Named London’s “best” PT, Nesrine Dally, is supporting Elvie’s #LeaksHappen campaign, and added: “I experienced incontinence after giving birth to my daughter. It mainly affected me during high impact Thai boxing sessions or skipping. A weak pelvic floor can particularly impact women when exercising, whether it’s running, dancing or lifting. This is why correct Kegel training is so important for women to implement into their weekly routine as it can reduce symptoms of stress urinary incontinence.”

Nesrine’s top three tips for implementing Kegel training into your everyday life:

Studies show that correct and consistent pelvic floor training improves symptoms in up to 70% of cases**. Build gentle Kegel exercises with the Elvie Trainer into a daily routine you already have. When you are carrying them out, it’s important you’re relaxed, you inhale before you start, exhale as your contract and lift and ensure you are not tensing your abs, quads or glutes. The Elvie Trainer uses real-time biofeedback which accurately tracks if you’re performing your Kegels correctly.

When we start we begin with quite isolated exercises (e.g. Kegels) but those exercises should integrate into all of your core stability movements to reinforce that motor control. Eventually we want to connect everything together and be able to engage our pelvic floor during all types of daily movements from running to sneezing.

If you partake in high impact sports and suffer from incontinence, start to modify your exercises appropriately. You don’t need to cut all high impact movements out, it’s more about modifying the ones where you are not experiencing the best control. Work on and your pelvic floor on a daily basis with the aim that as your pelvic floor muscles strengthen, you can reintegrate higher impact activities.

If you are suffering from any symptoms of pelvic floor weakness and unsure what the right solution is for you, it is recommended to seek medical advice.