Regaining control: new study sheds light on incontinence

September 5, 2011

An Australian study has revealed that as many as one in eight healthy young women have urinary incontinence (UI).

Monash University honours student Tessa O’Halloran, together with Professors Susan Davis and Robin Bell, surveyed 1000 healthy young women in Melbourne looking at the issue that is commonly considered to be a problem experienced by older women.

“Our research found that UI affects 12.6 per cent of women under 30 years of age, unrelated to pregnancy, and is associated with impaired wellbeing,” said Ms O’Halloran.

“The findings are important as previous studies have shown that UI is clearly related to pregnancy and being overweight. However, the extent to which UI affects younger women who have never been pregnant has not been understood until now.”

The study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of UI in otherwise healthy young women aged 16 to 30 years who have never been pregnant (which is a known risk factor for developing urinary incontinence) using validated questionnaires to diagnose urinary incontinence and to determine factors associated with the likelihood of having UI.

The research showed that 12.6 per cent of surveyed women had , with most experiencing stress incontinence (6.2 per cent) or urge incontinence (4.5 per cent). About 1.9 per cent of those surveyed experienced both.

“We found that women are more likely to have incontinence if they had been sexually active, however this was 50 per cent less likely amongst this group if they were taking the oral contraceptive pill. Interestingly, women were more likely to experience incontinence if they had a history of bedwetting after the age of five,” said Ms O’Halloran.

This is the first study of its kind to be conducted in women who have never experienced a pregnancy and demonstrates that there is a significant proportion of women who are vulnerable to incontinence irrespective of or obesity.

“I encourage who are experiencing this problem to speak to a medical practitioner to learn how to best manage the problem in the short-term and then to prevent a worsening of the condition in later life,” said Ms O’Halloran.

The research will be presented at the 15th Australasian Menopause Society Congress, which will be held in Brisbane between 9-11 September 2011.

Related Stories

Genes an important factor in urinary incontinence

April 4, 2011

Much of the risk of developing incontinence before middle age is determined by our genes. Genetic factors can explain half of people's susceptibility to urinary incontinence, a study of twins at the University of Gothenburg ...

Urinary incontinence doubles risk of postpartum depression

June 20, 2011

Women with urinary incontinence after giving birth are almost twice as likely to develop postpartum depression as those without incontinence, according to a new study led by Wendy Sword, a professor in McMaster University's ...

Recommended for you

Can four fish oil pills a day keep the doctor away?

July 7, 2015

Fish oil is one of the most popular dietary supplements in the U.S. because of the perceived cardiovascular benefits of the omega-3 it contains. However, scientific findings on its effectiveness have been conflicting. New ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.