One-third of women experience pelvic floor disorders

March 13, 2008

One-third of women appear to suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders, researchers from Kaiser Permanente reported in Obstetrics & Gynecology (2008; 111:678-85).

One-third of women appear to suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders, researchers from Kaiser Permanente reported in Obstetrics & Gynecology (2008; 111:678-85).

Researchers say their study consists of the broadest age range of participants to date, and 80% of the 4,000 women studied had given birth. Of those 4,000 women, 25% suffered from anal incontinence, 15% from stress urinary incontinence, 13% from overactive bladder, and 6% experienced pelvic organ prolapse.

“These conditions really affect women’s quality of life. Many women think this is just something they have to deal with as they age and that there isn’t anything they can do about it, but that’s not true,” said lead author Jean M. Lawrence, ScD, MPH, MSSA, of the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research and Evaluation in Southern California, Pasadena, where the study was conducted.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, surveyed women ages 25 to 84 years in English and Spanish. The findings expand on research published 2 years ago by the same scientific team from Kaiser Permanente Southern California and the University of California, San Diego Medical Center that found that women who undergo vaginal births have double the rate of pelvic floor disorders compared to those who have Cesarean deliveries and women who have never given birth.

“One of the myths surrounding pelvic floor disorder is that it affects only older women, but the truth is these conditions are extremely prevalent and extremely debilitating,” said study co-author Karl Luber, MD, of Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center. “But because the subject matter isn’t cocktail conversation, women feel isolated and don’t seek support and treatment,”