More than half of women in the US experience urinary incontinence (UI), a new study finds.

Among 15,003 women aged 20 years or older who participated in the 2005-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 53% had UI of any type, 16% had mixed UI (MUI), 26% had stress UI (SUI) only, and 10% had urgency UI (UUI) only, Lydia Feinstein, PhD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and colleagues reported in The Journal of Urology. MUI and UUI were most prevalent among women aged 60 years or older (25% and 19%, respectively). SUI was most prevalent among women aged 40 to 59 years (32%).

Moderate to severe UI of any type (affecting 30% of the women overall) increased with age. Severe UI was more common among women with low income (13%) or less than a high school education (11%).

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The investigators also found racial disparities. Black women had higher prevalence of UUI (18% vs 7%-9% for other ethnic groups), but the lowest prevalence of SUI (16% vs 23%-28% for other ethnic groups).

With respect to frequency, 29% of women with SUI experienced symptoms a few times a month, 10% a few times a week, and 4% daily. UUI symptoms affected 28% a few times a month, 9% a few times a week, and 4% daily. Among women 60 years or older, 26% experienced UUI symptoms a few times a week or daily. UUI symptoms were also more frequent among Black and Mexican-American women compared with other ethnic groups, as well as among those of lower socioeconomic status. Pregnant women and women with vaginal delivery experienced SUI and UUI symptoms more frequently than nonpregnant women.

A total of 24% of women with any UI, particularly women older than 40 years, reported that the condition affected their daily activities.

“Understanding the prevalence and impact of [UI] in the United States, as well as identifying segments of the population most affected, is critical to advancing [UI] care,” Dr Feinstein’s team stated.

“Our findings highlight disparities that need to be addressed and provide valuable information to guide decision making and improve health care delivery across the population.”


Lee UJ, Feinstein L, Ward JB, Kirkali Z, Martinez-Miller EE, Matlaga BR, Kobashi KC. Prevalence of urinary incontinence among a nationally representative sample of women, 2005-2016: findings from the Urologic Diseases in America project. J Urol. 205(6):1718-1724. doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000001634