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Urinary Incontinence Problematic for Many Women Over 40, Study Finds

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
05/14/15  9:22 PM PST
Stress urge incontinence

By Sammy Caiola for the Sacramento Bee

Urinary Incontinence Problematic for Many Women Over 40, Study Finds The problem, though embarrassing for some, is more common – and treatable – than many women realize.

Dr. Elaine Waetjen, gynecologist with the UC Davis Medical Center, has been studying urinary incontinence for more than 16 years and considers it an important but under-acknowledged issue in women’s health. Her recent study, which analyzed nine years of data from 3,000 women ages 42-64, found that 68 percent of this group experiences the problem at least once a month.

Urinary incontinence has gained recognition in both the public and academic realms in recent years as female baby boomers reach middle and older age, Waetjen said. Because it usually affects women in their 40s, urinary incontinence has been associated with menopause. However, she said, there is no evidence that the relationship is causal.

More commonly, urinary incontinence results from the deterioration of certain muscles due to childbirth, or aging, or both, Waetjen said. Women over 40 commonly suffer from two types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence is characterized by involuntary leakage during or after an event, such as coughing, sneezing or exercise. It usually occurs because of a weakness in pelvic floor muscles or the stretching out of the support tissues around the urethra.

Urge incontinence involves the muscles around the bladder, which put pressure on the organ at inconvenient times or with too much frequency. Though the cause of the latter type is unclear, it has been closely tied to diabetes and is more common in African American women, whereas stress incontinence is more common in white women.

 

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