Incontinence takes mental toll on younger women

New research from the University of Adelaide shows middle-aged women are more likely to suffer depression from a common medical problem that they find too embarrassing to talk about: urinary incontinence.

However, help is available for women if they seek , researchers say.

In a study of the experiences of women with urinary incontinence, researcher Jodie Avery found that middle-aged women with incontinence (aged 43-65) were more likely to be depressed than (aged 65-89).

Speaking in the lead up to World Continence Week (24-30 June), Ms Avery says the younger women's self esteem is often hit hard by urinary incontinence, while older women tend to be more resilient and accepting of their condition.

"Women with both incontinence and depression scored lower in all areas of quality of life because of the impact of incontinence on their physical wellbeing," says Ms Avery, a and Senior Research Associate with the University's School of and School of Medicine.

"Key issues for affected by incontinence are family, and sport and leisure activities.

"The most common difficulties women express about their incontinence are things like: 'I can't play netball', 'I can't go to the gym', 'I can't go for walks', or 'I can't go dancing', and these are real issues for women who are still in the prime of their lives."

Urinary incontinence affects approximately 35% of the female population. The main cause in women is pregnancy, with the number of children they have increasing their chances of becoming incontinent.

"Our studies show that 20% of the incontinent population has depression, and this is something that we need both sufferers and GPs to better understand," Ms Avery says.

"Sufferers of incontinence are often reluctant to get help, but attitudes are slowly changing. It is very important for them to seek advice about their condition. In some cases, can be curable with an operation, and this is quite literally a life-changing operation for many women.

"GPs need to be aware that if their patient is suffering from incontinence, this condition is often linked with depression which needs to be treated to increase their quality of life.

"Ultimately, we hope that our research helps to raise awareness in the community about both the mental and physical issues associated with incontinence. We know it's embarrassing, but if you discuss it with your GP, your life really can change."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bladder control an issue for young women

Jul 17, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Traditionally considered an older women’s condition, urinary incontinence (UI) affects one in eight healthy young women, causing depression in some, ‎according to a new study.

Long-term consequences of vaginal delivery

Jan 30, 2013

Women are more likely to experience urinary incontinence, prolapse and faecal incontinence 20 years after one vaginal delivery rather than one caesarean section, finds new research published in a thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, ...

Urinary incontinence doubles risk of postpartum depression

Jun 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

Ebola: timeline of a ruthless killer

48 minutes ago

Here are key dates in the current Ebola epidemic, the worst ever outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever which first surfaced in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ebola reveals shortcomings of African solidarity

21 hours ago

As Africa's leaders meet in Ethiopia to discuss the Ebola crisis, expectations of firm action will be tempered by criticism over the continent's poor record in the early stages of the epidemic.

Second bird flu case confirmed in Canada

Jan 30, 2015

The husband of a Canadian who was diagnosed earlier this week with bird flu after returning from a trip to China has also tested positive for the virus, health officials said Friday.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Jan 30, 2015

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are straining public health systems and public health efforts meant to prevent and detect the spread of infectious diseases. This is generating a "perfect storm" of conditions for outbreaks. Among the infections raising concern is Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, caused by a type of coronavirus, which emerged in 2012. ...

User 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.