Urinary incontinence occurs in nearly 1 in 2 women aged 45 years and older, a new study suggests.

The study examined survey results from 143,096 women at baseline (2006–2009) and 59,060 women who participated in a follow-up survey (2012–2015). The prevalence of urinary leakage reported in these surveys was 44% and 44.6%, respectively, Kristine Concepcion, MD, MPH, of Family Planning NSW Ashfield in New South Wales, Australia, and colleagues reported in Neurourology and Urodynamics.

Among women who reported urinary leakage at baseline, 13.1% reported urinary leakage 4 or more times per week and 21.2% reported urinary leakage once a week or less.

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Increasing age, abnormal body mass index, back pain, anxiety, depression, and psychological distress were associated with greater odds of urinary incontinence, whereas Asian ancestry and being unemployed were associated with decreased odds.

The investigators found that the prevalence of urinary leakage 2 to 3 times a week increased as the women aged from baseline to follow-up (from 9.8% to 15.6%). Compared with women aged 45 to 54 years, those aged 75 years and older had 22% increased odds of urinary leakage at least once a week, in adjusted analyses. Compared with normal-weight patients, underweight, overweight, and obese patients had 11%, 13%, and 41% increased odds of urinary leakage at least once per week. The odds were increased by 32%, 50%, and 29% among women with moderate, high, and very high levels of psychological distress compared with women who had low levels.

Urinary incontinence risk also was associated with parity. Compared with women who had no children, those who had 1, 2, and 3 or more children had 19%, 25%, and 35% greater odds of urinary leakage at least once a week, respectively.  

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“There may be a role for routine screening in primary care for urinary leakage in older women, particularly those with associated risk factors,” the investigators concluded. “Health promotion campaigns could be developed to raise awareness, target key populations and encourage women to present to health professionals for assessment and care.”


Concepcion K, Cheng Y, McGeechan K, et al. Prevalence and associated factors of urinary leakage among women participating in the 45 and Up Study. Neurourol Urodyn. 2018; published online ahead of print.