Stress urinary incontinence is common and sometimes embarrassing. New, simple, and easily accessible treatments are needed. We telephone interviewed 21 women who participated in a randomized controlled study comparing two treatment programs based on instructions for pelvic floor muscle training. One program was Internet-based and included email support by a urotherapist; the other was sent by post. There was no face-to-face contact in either program. Our main aim was to explore the women's experiences of the Internet-based treatment. Grounded theory analysis revealed three categories: hidden but present, at a distance but close, and by myself but not alone. These were incorporated in a core category: acknowledged but not exposed. The leakage was often a well-hidden secret, but the study treatments lowered the barrier for seeking care. In the Internet group, a supportive patient-provider relationship developed despite the lack of face-to-face contact. Internet-based treatment programs can increase access to care and empower women.
Keywords: Internet; grounded theory; health seeking; interviews; relationships; self-care; women’s health.