Prevalence of urinary incontinence increasing in U.S. women and men

July 21, 2011

The age-standardized prevalence of urinary incontinence has increased in men and women from 2001 through 2008, according to a recent study.

The age-standardized prevalence of urinary incontinence has increased in men and women from 2001 through 2008, according to a recent study.

Decreasing obesity and diabetes may lessen the burden of urinary incontinence, especially in women, concluded the study’s authors, writing in the Journal of Urology (2011; 186:589-93).

Researchers at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, AL, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, analyzed data on 17,850 adults 20 years of age or older who participated in the 2001 to 2008 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Any urinary incontinence was defined as a positive response to questions on urine leakage during physical activity, before reaching the toilet, and during nonphysical activity. During this period, changes in demographic and clinical factors associated with urinary incontinence included age, race/ethnicity, obesity, diabetes, and chronic medical conditions.

The age-standardized prevalence of urinary incontinence in the combined surveys was 51.1% in women and 13.9% in men, reported the researchers, who were led by Alayne D. Markland, DO, of the University of Alabama. Prevalence in women increased from 49.5% in 2001 to 2002 to 53.4% in 2007 to 2008 (p=.01), and in men from 11.5% to 15.1%, respectively (p=.01). In women, increased prevalence was partially explained by differences in age, race/ethnicity, obesity, diabetes, and select chronic diseases across the survey periods.

After adjustment, the prevalence odds ratio for 2007 to 2008 versus 2001 to 2002 decreased from 1.22 (95% CI: 1.03–1.45) to 1.16 (95% CI: 0.99–1.37). In men, adjustment for potentially associated factors did not explain the increasing prevalence of urinary incontinence.