Weight gain may worsen incontinence symptoms

April 10, 2008

In midlife women, worsening of incontinence symptoms does not appear to be attributable to the menopausal transition, according to a multicenter study. The study’s authors say that modifiable factors such as weight gain may be to blame (Obstet Gynecol 2008; 111:667-77).

In midlife women, worsening of incontinence symptoms does not appear to be attributable to the menopausal transition, according to a multicenter study. The study’s authors say that modifiable factors such as weight gain may be to blame (Obstet Gynecol 2008; 111:667-77).

L. Elaine Waetjen, MD, of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues, analyzed data from 2,415 women who reported incontinence at least once per month in self-administered questionnaires at baseline and during the first six annual follow-up visits (1995 to 2002) of the prospective cohort Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation.

Over 6 years, 14.7% of incontinent women reported worsening, 32.4% reported improvement, and 52.9% reported no change in the frequency of incontinence symptoms. Compared with premenopause, perimenopause and postmenopause were not associated with worsening incontinence. For example, early perimenopause was associated with improvement (odds ratio, 1.19; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–1.35) and postmenopause reduced odds of worsening (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.66–0.95).

Meanwhile, each pound of weight gain increased odds of worsening incontinence (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03–1.05) and reduced odds of improving incontinence (OR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.96–0.98).