Pelvic floor health campaign launched with Victorian government support

Thursday 9 November 2017

Women holding each other

‘Go Against the Flow’ is tackling the stigma associated with bladder leakage in young women.

In summary

  • One in eight girls experience bladder leakage says new public health campaign
  • Campaign celebrates differences in young women and tackles the stigma of health issues
  • ‘Go Against the Flow’ website features information and support 

One in eight teenage girls experience bladder leakage says a new public health campaign launched by the Victorian Continence Resource Centre (VCRC) and Swinburne University of Technology.

A literature review conducted by a team of health professionals at the VCRC confirmed the lack of age-appropriate and engaging material available to raise awareness of bladder leakage in teenage girls.

“This revelation provided the impetus to establish a collaboration with Swinburne because it is imperative to reach this audience before the health issue arises,” says VCRC Executive Officer Lisa Wragg.

From this collaboration, the ‘Go Against The Flow’ campaign was created.

The campaign, which began as a health awareness initiative for bladder leakage in teenage girls aged 15–19 years, has become a movement celebrating differences and tackling the stigma of this health concern.

Cartoon drawing of woman.

“Urinary incontinence is not something teen girls talk about because no one really tells them it’s something they should be thinking about,” says Swinburne's Associate Professor Nicole Wragg, who is the art director and a main researcher for the project.

“Because of this silence, many young girls are likely to deal with this problem alone, feeling embarrassed, stressed and ashamed,” says Lisa Wragg.

Over the course of several years, a collaborative team comprising VCRC and Swinburne staff led by chief investigator Associate Professor Carolyn Barnes, used innovative communication design techniques to figure out how to resonate with young women.

“We held a series of co-design workshops with teen girls to find the best ways to connect with them,” says Associate Professor Barnes.

“The girls gave us critical feedback about what mattered to them. The workshop findings were then translated into design concepts by an all-female team of Swinburne communication design students.”

Women walking in an urban setting.

Through the research process, the team found:

  • empowering young women to become pelvic floor aware has preventative benefits in adulthood 
  • 33.3 per cent of women experience light bladder leakage
  • use of period apps is very high among teenage girls
  • the clinical perspective of this issue can be overwhelming
  • there is a higher rate of urinary incontinence among professional female athletes.

Through a website featuring blogs, information and a moderator forum, ‘Go Against the Flow’ aims to make teenage girls who may be experiencing bladder leakage feel supported, informed and respected. 

“When teen girls feel empowered, they will seek information about what they can do to prevent bladder leakage or how they can get help through this campaign,” says Jen Rivett, VCRC Marketing and Communications Officer.

Grant funding from Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Swinburne and additional funds from VCRC have made this collaboration and the launch of ‘Go Against The Flow’ possible.

For more information, see: goagainsttheflow.org.au