Introduction and Objectives: Stress urinary incontinence is an important health problem with significant social and psychological impact on the lives of women. We conducted the present study to determine the prevalence, frequency, and treatment of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) symptoms in a community- dwelling population.

Material and Methods: We conducted a national, cross-sectional mailed survey of 45,000 U.S. households. A 14-item questionnaire assessed the prevalence and frequency of urinary incontinence symptoms during the last 30 days. Each questionnaire was to be completed separately by adult male and female household members. The present analysis focused on SUI symptoms in female respondents ages 18 and over. The sample was drawn from households participating in National Family Opinion (NFO) studies, a representative panel of households balanced to match U.S. census distributions on multiple factors. Stress symptoms were defined as a leak or loss of urine due to sneezing, coughing, laughing, exercising, lifting or physical activity. Urge urinary incontinence (UUI) symptoms were defined either as: (1) an urge to urinate but being unable to get to the toilet before leaking or losing urine, or (2) a leak or loss of urine not due to actions listed in the definition of stress incontinence symptoms.

Results: Of the 45,000 questionnaires mailed to households, 66% (29,903) were returned, and 82% (24,581) of the returned questionnaires included a female respondent. A total of 37% of respondents reported symptoms of urinary incontinence in the last 30 days. Forty-one percent of the respondents had only SUI symptoms, 12% had only UUI symptoms, and 45% had mixed stress and urge incontinence (MUI) symptoms. The median age of respondents with SUI was 48 years compared to 61years for UUI, and 55 years for MUI. Of respondents reporting only SUI in the past 30 days, almost 70% had experienced symptoms for =1 year, 57% reported symptoms in the last 7 days, 37% used pads or other absorbent materials, and 24% had consulted a physician for SUI. Of respondents with only SUI symptoms in the last 7 days, 45% used pads, 28% had consulted a physician (of whom 6% were taking UI medications), and 26% had symptoms for over half the week.

Conclusions: Thirty-seven percent of women report urinary incontinence symptoms in the last 30 days and 41% had symptoms of stress incontinence only. Extrapolated to the entire US female population, stress urinary incontinence affects approximately 16 million US women.

OBJECTIVES

To determine the prevalence and frequency of stress, urge, and mixed urinary incontinence in a community-dwelling population in the United States. Describe incontinence severity and treatment-seeking behaviour in women with stress incontinence.

STUDY  DESIGN

National, cross-sectional mailed survey.

Sample: 45,000 U.S. households participating in National Family Opinion studies. Sample balanced to match U.S. census distributions on multiple factors (e.g. geographic region, household income, household size, age). 14-item questionnaire designed to be completed by adult male and female heads of household. Present analysis includes only female respondents.

STUDY  DESIGN  DEFINITIONS

Respondents asked about symptoms in the last 30 days.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI): Leakage or loss of urine with sneezing, coughing, exercising, lifting, physical activity, or laughing.
Urge urinary incontinence (UUI): Urge to urinate and unable to reach toilet before leakage of urine or leakage of urine not associated with above stress triggers.
Mixed urinary incontinence (MUI): Stress and urge symptoms.
66% (29,903) of questionnaires returned.
82% of returned questionnaires included a female respondent (n=24,581).
37% of women reported urinary incontinence (UI) symptoms in the last 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS

37% of community-dwelling adult women reported symptoms of urinary incontinence in the previous 30 days. 86% of women with any UI symptoms had some symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. 41% of women with any UI symptoms had symptoms of stress urinary incontinence only. Extrapolated to the U.S. female population, stress urinary incontinence affects approximately 16 million U.S. women.

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