Pelvic Floor Disorders Common Among US Women

Condition affects nearly one in four women, and prevalence increases with age and body weight

TUESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Pelvic floor disorders such as urinary and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse affect nearly 25 percent of U.S. women, and are even more prevalent in older and obese women, according to a report published in the Sept. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ingrid Nygaard, M.D., of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1,961 women aged 20 and older who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Pregnant women were excluded from the study.

Overall, the researchers found that the prevalence of at least one pelvic floor disorder was 23.7 percent, with 15.7 percent of subjects reporting urinary incontinence, 9 percent reporting fecal incontinence, and 2.9 percent reporting pelvic organ prolapse. The investigators also found that the prevalence of at least one pelvic floor disorder steadily increased with age, ranging from 9.7 percent in women aged 20-39 to 49.7 percent in women aged 80 and older; and also that the prevalence steadily increased with body weight, ranging from 15.1 percent in underweight and normal weight women to 26.3 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively, in overweight and obese women.

"These data represent the first nationwide, population-based estimates of the three primary pelvic floor disorders in women in the United States derived from a single source," the authors write. "By 2030, more than one-fifth of women will be 65 years or older. As the population of older women increases, the national burden related to pelvic floor disorders in terms of health care costs, lost productivity, and decreased quality of life will be substantial.…Given the burden pelvic floor disorders place on U.S. women and the health care system, research is needed to further understand their pathophysiology, prevention and treatment."

Several of the study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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