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Urinary Incontinence not discussed

25 May 2020

A recent finding taken from a Nurses Health Study, found that even health care professionals find it difficult to talk to their doctors about urinary incontinence (UI).

Only around a third of the 94,692 women with UI, in the study had discussed wetting themselves with a doctor or health professional.

Urinary incontinence (UI) is prevalent in women of course reduces quality of life, depending on how often it happens.

The aim of the research was to examine the proportion of middle aged and older women, ranging from ages 49-91 years in age, with urinary incontinence who have discussed their problem with clinicians, focusing on female health professionals as a way to examine this question outside of issues of healthcare access.

Those who experienced UI every day, rather than on a monthly basis were found to be far more likely to consult a doctor.

Dr Heather Currie, who was not involved in the study, said: "Wetting yourself is clearly still a taboo for so many women. When it reaches the point where it inhibits daily life it's only then that they feel driven to speak with a doctor about it."

Dr Currie added: "The onset, or worsening of bladder problems around the time of the menopause, or a few years later often occurs, and is thought to be due to the effect of estrogen deficiency on the bladder, vagina and pelvic floor muscles.

"Although many women report an improvement in bladder symptoms when estrogen is taken in the form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), studies have shown mixed results. However, the use of locally acting, vaginal estrogen clearly helps and is recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence NICE, along with pelvic floor exercises.

"Vaginal estrogen can be taken even if systemic HRT is not recommended, or not desired, since vaginal estrogen is of very low dose and acts locally in the vagina and bladder, with minimal absorption into the circulation, while systemic HRT circulates throughout the body.

It is clear that women, even those in the Nurses Health Study, find it difficult to ask for help for this distressing condition. Health providers should pro-actively ask women about urinary symptoms to open up the important conversation.

You can find more details at both and

Reference: Journals of Gerontology: Series A, online April 30, 2020.

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