Lewis Moody End Bladder Shame Web Page Banner.png

Hard pass: 1 in 3 men struggle to confide in friends about their health and wellbeing, while 1 in 3 would be embarrassed by bladder leakage

Rugby Union’s Lewis Moody talks being a professional sportsman and experiencing .

“The stress that I added to myself by not telling other people added to the issues I was dealing with.”

It’s no secret many men struggle to open up.

So, to better understand 'what do guys talk about?’ (and who with) TENA surveyed 1,000 UK men 40+.

The results are revealed below. Heads up: salary, sex lives and sports are a go. Mental health, their dating life, and are topics many actively avoid discussing.

We also got on the field with England Rugby Union star Lewis Moody to discuss his personal experiences with bladder leakage and the conversations he has with friends. 

Almost 1 in 5 men 40+ are embarrassed to discuss their physical health and wellbeing with their mates

Precisely what is it that makes men bottle their concerns up? Is it embarrassment? Do they struggle to bring it into conversation? Results from our survey found that 1 in 3 men (33%) don’t think it’s anyone else’s business.

Furthermore, almost 1 in 5 men find it embarrassing, with men aged 45 to 54 struggling the most to open up about their health concerns. Almost a quarter of men in this age bracket are reluctant to talk physical health and wellbeing with other men out of embarrassment. 

There are many stigmas around both physical and male mental health concerns, with only 30% of men feeling comfortable discussing their mental health with their mates. Plenty of myths about incontinence, mental health, and other wellbeing issues circulate, which can perpetuate feelings of self-consciousness or shame. 

Lewis Moody End Bladder Shame Campaign image 1.jpg

"When I was dealing with Ulcerative Colitis and that diagnosis, not talking about it added huge stress. It was only when I opened up to my coach after a year and a half, I suddenly realised he was dealing with something similar and it was like a weight was lifted."

Former England Rugby Captain, Lewis Moody.

Only 17% of men feel comfortable enough to talk about their health with their male friends

So, if men aren’t discussing their health with their guy friends, who are they talking to? ‘Their partner’ said 55%, compared to just 17% who were willing to discuss these topics with male friends.

Men were more than happy to discuss sports, politics, and their careers with their mates, but when it comes to health concerns, they keep their cards close to their chest.

There are a variety of physical changes that men associate with growing older. Our respondents detailed losing the hair on their head, hearing loss, erectile dysfunction, and back pain as some of the top changes correlated with ageing.

While 71% of men were willing to discuss sight and hearing loss with other men, and 69% would feel comfortable discussing hair loss, only 23% would discuss erectile dysfunction, and 27% would discuss incontinence – despite almost a third of men over the age of 65 admitting to having experienced urine leakage. 

Oftentimes the most uncomfortable step is simply initiating the conversation. Whether it’s knowing how to open up about urine leakage, or how to talk to men about your changing health, the hard part is starting the conversation. Always remember, you do not have to suffer alone.

"We can break those taboos, I suppose, by starting to share our vulnerabilities. And more importantly for me, finding a trusted friend or colleague to open up to."


Over three-quarters of men would keep tight-lipped about incontinence out of embarrassment

We found only 38% of men 40+ believe they are in good physical health for their age. So, why do so many men suffer in silence about their health? Clearly, there are several health topics where the men of the UK remain stone-faced about their concerns.

Take sexual health, for example. Over half of the survey respondents (52%) would feel uncomfortable discussing erectile dysfunction with other men, with Northern Irish men (89% of them) feeling unable to open up about it. 

Over a quarter of surveyed men (27%) disclosed they had experienced urine leakage and frequent urination at some point. Despite this, 50% of those men said they would be unlikely to talk to someone about it – with more than 3 in 4 (76%) saying they would avoid discussing it out of embarrassment.

Further research from TENA’s End Bladder Shame efforts found only 55% of men would feel comfortable talking to their doctor about such problems, citing feelings of shame and loneliness for as reasons for not speaking out.

If men are more likely to bottle these concerns up out of shame or embarrassment, it is no wonder so many feel alone and why other men don’t open up, too.

Many men who have faced these concerns may not know where to begin improving their conditions or which male health products to choose. Only 14% of men have tried to strengthen their pelvic floor health. Although, almost 1 in 4 (23%) of these men are Londoners, suggesting there is some interest and awareness of the pelvic floor in the English capital.


50% say that men are more likely to openly discuss their health and wellbeing with other men now than they were 20 years ago

However, men’s health and wellbeing are not all secrecy and silence. More than 1 in 2 surveyed said they think men are more likely to discuss health issues with other men now than they were 20 years ago. Views on masculinity and health are changing. Ageing is not a taboo topic, and men do not have to face these challenges by themselves.

So, whether it is speaking about leaking, mental health, or simply growing older, it is important that men talk to each other so that they and their mates do not have to go it alone.