yoga-pantsMy 40-something-year-old friend received a call from her husband while she was at work.

“Your yoga pants arrived,” he said, referring to a package that came that day in the mail.

“I didn’t order any yoga pants,” she replied, wondering what it could be.

Arriving home that night she found a 6-by-8-inch box with a side view of an attractive woman in workout gear walking down a city street.

A sticker on the box said “YOGA PANTS APPROVED.”

As she peeled off the sticker, the box pulled apart revealing what was under the yoga pants. The image was of the same woman wearing Depends.

Inside the box were two pairs of Silhouette Active Fit briefs, one black and the other beige. The mailing was a marketing device by Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Depends-brand undergarments.

I think my friend didn’t know what to feel, but she joked that they must know that she “pees a little” when she laughs.

Indeed, that’s exactly what Kimberly-Clark knows.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50 percent of women over the age of 65 said they suffer from bladder incontinence. But the truth is that women of all ages experience urinary incontinence. Many woman leak urine when they exercise, laugh hard, cough or sneeze. Often women leak when they are pregnant or after they have given birth.

Diseases like diabetes and some medications can cause nerve damage, leading to urinary incontinence.

Alcohol and caffeine can fill the bladder quickly, leading to bladder leakage. Excess weight can put pressure on the bladder. And urinary tract infections can irritate the bladder and cause it to leak.

Over the past year, the makers of Depends have been working to take the stigma out of wearing what used to be called adult diapers and is now referred to as disposable underwear. Their campaign brings attention to men and women from all walks of life that have bladder leakage and would benefit from disposable underwear.

My friend brought in the box to show me. The outside of the box could easily be mistaken as a package of yoga pants. The underwear inside is made from soft, almost cloth-like material. They don’t “rustle” when you pull them up, and they are low profile, which makes it hard to tell someone has them on under their clothes.

My dad finally agreed to use disposable underwear many years ago, but that last experience before he switched is etched in my mind.

We had just been seated at an exclusive restaurant that had taken weeks to get a reservation.

All of a sudden my father jumped up from his seat and rushed to the bathroom. My mother quickly followed. My father’s bladder urgency had increased over the past number of months due to an enlarged prostate, and his urgency struck without warning.

After what felt like forever, my mom came out of the bathroom, my father following her with my mothe r ’ s sweater draped over his fly area. He’d had an accident.

The restaurant was close to their home and after some convincing the maitre d’ agreed to allow me to hold the table while they went home to change. A half-hour later my parents returned. My father was embarrassed, and my mother and I felt sorry for him. The evening was ruined.

The next day we talked about “adult diapers,” and my dad relented.

“Yes,” he said. “Buy some and I will wear them.”

A few days later, I remember asking him how he felt now wearing an adult diaper (as it was called back then). I was so surprised by his answer.

He said, “ I feel fantastic. This is the first time in years I haven’t felt afraid I would have an accident.”

Way to go, Kimberly-Clark, to publicize a stigma-free solution to a commonplace problem.

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