We all know that once a woman has delivered her first pregnancy , she becomes at more risk of acquiring urinary incontinence. However, recent studies from “University of Gothenburg” as of Nov.9 2016 have stated:
“Women who have not given birth often end up under the radar for research on urinary incontinence. In a study of this group, however, one in five women over 45 years say they experience this type of incontinence. ”
If this indicates something, then it has to be that the pelvic floor muscles are generally weak in all women of all groups, regardless if they had previous pregnancies or not:
“This confirms that problems are found in all groups, and that women have a weakness of the pelvic floor even if they have not previously given birth”
Maria Gyhagen (gynecologist and researcher at Gothenburg University)
The study that took place in Gothenburg involved about 9,200 women whose ages are between 25 to 64 years and have never given birth before. They managed however to pinpoint (even vaguely) to main factors controlling the severity of this particular problem and they are age and weight.
Let’s talk about each factor in more detail.
The problem increases with age as general weakness of the muscles in general is seen in the elderly.
Regarding weight, in the category of young women (25-35 years) with normal weight (a BMI between 18.5 to 24.9), 10% have reported that they had urinary incontinence. This percentage increased significantly to include almost all women falling the category of (55-64 years) with a BMI above 35 (which indicates 2nd Class Obesity).
Of all women aged 45-64 years that participated in the study, 20% reported that they had urinary incontinence.
What also noted is that mixed incontinence increased with age as well. This is a combination of leakage during exercise and urge incontinence). 17% reported slight cases of nocturia as they had to get up at least twice per night to urinate.
“The original purpose of the study was to measure the effects of pregnancy in itself and the potential protective effect of caesarean section. At the same time, we have collected the world’s first and most detailed data for this particular reference group.” says Maria.
Relatively speaking, women who have given birth are at a higher risk of acquiring urinary incontinence, but this doesn’t mean that women who haven’t had a previous pregnancy are safe from urinary incontinence. In fact this group must be given special interest as most of the younger women will become pregnant and give birth one day making the matter much worse when not treated properly.
“Those who have urinary incontinence before a pregnancy risk getting significantly worse after childbirth. This is a particularly vulnerable group and should therefore be attended to and counseled in antenatal care, and should be identified in maternal health.” says Maria.
Statistically speaking, it’s notable to say that the study was based on a national random sample of non-pregnant women who hadn’t given birth based on the complete population register. The response rate was 52 percent which is a high rate as stated by Maria Gyhagen.