From Our 2008 Archives
Study: Female Incontinence Is Common
Incontinence Not an Inevitable Part of Aging, Researchers Report
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 29, 2008 -- Women often don't tell their doctors about incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse, but those problems are common, a new study shows.
The study urges women not to accept those problems as a normal part of aging.
"Rather, they should focus on modifiable risk factors such as weight loss and maintenance, and seek treatment for all conditions when they occur," the researchers write in the March edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The study included 4,103 women aged 25 to 84 (average age: 56) who got their health care through Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
The women completed surveys about the following pelvic floor disorders:
The survey's results:
Many women had more than one pelvic floor disorder.
"Roughly 80% of women with stress urinary incontinence or overactive bladder, 69% with pelvic organ prolapse, and 48% with anal incontinence reported at least one other [pelvic floor] disorder," write the researchers, who included Jean Lawrence, ScD, MPH, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
Pelvic floor disorders were more common among older women. But age wasn't as important as other factors, such as the number of babies the women had had by vaginal birth, menopause, hysterectomy, smoking, and obesity.
It's not clear if the results apply to all women. Those with pelvic floor disorders may have been more likely than women without those problems to complete the survey.
SOURCES: Lawrence, J. Obstetrics & Gynecology, March 2008; vol 111. WebMD Medical Reference: "Types of Urinary Incontinence." WebMD Medical Reference: "Pelvic Organ Prolapse."
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