Take time for yourself. Just like they tell you to do on the plane, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you are capable of being useful to anyone else. Practice positive affirmation and concentrate on the positive. Go on that vacation.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jessica Lubahn.
Dr. Jessica Lubahn, a Washington University School of Medicine (in St. Louis) graduate, is a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology with over 13 years of experience in the medical field.
Aside from practicing in Portland, Dr. Lubahn is a health writer and consultant, and the founder of ONDRwear. Dr. Lubahn’s mission is to destigmatize menstrual, urinary, and other types of leakage, by creating effective, beautiful products.
Dr. Lubahn prides herself on patient care and is committed to providing the highest quality care to all of her patients, as well as her customers.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
As a urologist , I directly witness the impact of bladder leakage or incontinence on my patients as well as my family members. Urine leakage can drive isolation and depression. I treat women and men with medications, nerve stimulators, botox, and even surgery. The bother may be great even when the leakage is “mild” from a medical standpoint. The issue is personal as well. I found myself in essentially adult diapers after giving birth to my first daughter. At a time when one should be celebrating the miracle that is childbirth, I found myself distressed about being able to function normally again. In an age when all we see is life that is curated on social media, I think it is important to turn the conversation back to what is real and truly beautiful. We need to give ourselves a little grace, and find humor and beauty in imperfections. This starts with feeling normal again. This why I created ONDRwear. I wanted a product that was fashionable, but functional. It is designed to be great underwear that incidentally handles life’s leaks. I think it is also important that women know that this is common and that they do not need to suffer alone.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
The field of urology is conducive to great stories. Real life pales the imagination and practicing medicine really puts it into perspective. Real life does not always seem fair, but certainly absurd. In an instant, a new diagnosis can change everything. What I have learned is that no matter how bad a situation is, it could always be worse. I think it is important to hold your babies close and always look for the good.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
My biggest mistake is not trusting my own intuition. Early on, having little experience in sales or marketing, I was very susceptible to signing up for every accelerator or treading water with consultant after consultant. As they say, “trust but verify.” I pulled it all back when I found my company spinning way from my original mission.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There many people that have helped me along the way. My family were my inspiration and my biggest supporters. My friend Sharon encouraged me to talk about what I wanted to do openly. She pointed out that I had talked about this idea for years, but did not act upon it because starting is difficult to do. She was right. Talking about it led me to meet an entrepreneur who had started his own underwear brand. Seeing what he had built made me realize that starting a textile company with little sewing skills was actually a feasible endeavor.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
The main goal of this work is that by eliminating the shame associated with bladder leakage, people can participate more fully in society. I often hear about how patients’ lives are dictated by their bladders. I want to give them their control back. Being able to talk about it will also increase acceptance of themselves. Also, by being sustainable, this will hopefully diminish the waste from disposable products.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Take time for yourself. Just like they tell you to do on the plane, you need to put on your own oxygen mask before you are capable of being useful to anyone else. Practice positive affirmation and concentrate on the positive. Go on that vacation.
- Take a technology break. Social media is designed to be addictive. The poor representation of the world also sets you up for unrealistic expectations. Remember to live in the present.
- Exercise or move your body. Take the stairs. Park far away. Make exercise routine. I always tell my patients to do their kegels at red lights or commercial breaks.
- Stay hydrated. In my world of kidney stones and urinary tract infections, water is key.
- Practice moderation and avoid extremes. In our minds, if something is good, more must be better. An example is vitamin C. Vitamin C is a seemingly benign, over-the-counter antioxidant, but over 1000mg a day of it will make you susceptible to kidney stone formation.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
With my brand, I hope to destigmatize urinary incontinence and call it the #peetoo movement. Women have come a long way in being open about menstruating, and I hope to achieve the same progress with bladder leakage. By increasing awareness of incontinence, I hope that women (and men), realize how common these issues are and feel safe talking about them. I hope we can all laugh a little more, realize that there is help, and take the shame of the condition away.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Ask questions. People are extremely generous with their time and expertise. Those around you may be able to help you.
- Don’t be afraid of rejection. I have heard a lot of “no” along the way, but many of these were on the path to “yes.”
- Make sure roles and expectations are clear. In a startup, everyone must be flexible and perform a variety of tasks in order to make progress. To avoid conflict, set the rules early.
- Setbacks are inevitable. Find a supportive community. I have found many entrepreneurial groups that have been instrumental in helping me hold myself accountable and work through various challenges.
- Entrepreneur life is lonely. There is no roadmap or definite path to success. However, the corollary is that it is also amazing to witness your creation come into fruition.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
At the societal level, the fashion industry has a major impact on global pollution and global warming. I read one astounding statistic that the fashion industry produces 10% of the worlds’ carbon emissions. With my first daughter, I tried a variety of cloth diapering systems in an attempt to lower our family carbon footprint. It occurred to me that this underwear could similarly decrease the incontinence ro period product waste that is filling the landfills.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!