In checking your list of New Year’s resolutions you see one item you don’t mind advertising to your friends and family and one item that you definitely will not. The first is losing weight -- hop on the bandwagon -- and the second is getting better bladder control. Urinary leakage in women, as common as it is, tends to be a hush-hush topic.
But little did you know, those two resolutions -- weight loss and bladder control -- are possibly connected. Achieve the first resolution in the new year and you might very well take care of the second one.
Of course, there are a number of health benefits to weight loss, and now reducing urinary incontinence can be added to the list, said the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The good news is based on a NIDDK-funded study called PRIDE, or Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise.
Encompassing 338 obese and overweight women in Birmingham, Alabama, and Providence, Rhode Island, the clinical trial started with participants who leaked urine at least 10 times per week.
The women were randomly assigned to either an intensive six-month weight-loss program of diet, exercise and behavior modification or to a group that received information about diet and exercise but no training to help them change habits, the NIDDK reported.
Women in the intensive weight-loss group lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight (about 17 pounds) and reduced weekly urinary incontinence episodes by 47 percent. In contrast, women in the information-only group lost an average of 1.6 percent of their weight (about 3 pounds) and had 28 percent fewer urinary incontinence episodes.
In addition, those in the weight-loss group reported feeling happier about the change in their incontinence, compared with the information-only group.
“Clearly, weight loss can have a significant, positive impact on urinary incontinence, a finding that may help motivate weight loss,” said NIDDK director Griffin P. Rodgers.
Dr. Leslee L. Subak of the University of California at San Francisco, lead author of the 2009 PRIDE study, said that weight reduction should be considered a first-line treatment for overweight or obese women suffering from urinary incontinence.
The study further supported the theory that weight loss reduces incontinence episodes because it reduces pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor.
Although you might be reticent about your own lack of bladder control, take heart in the fact that you are one of a horde of women in the United States with some degree of urinary leakage -- 13 million women, according to the NIDDK.
It might range from a minor annoyance when you laugh, sneeze or cough to a lifestyle impediment marked by constant trips to the bathroom and/or urinary incontinence products.
As healthcare practitioners will tell you, urinary leakage is a medical concern -- one for which you should seek medical advice. Making bladder control part of your New Year’s resolutions along with weight loss, though, is a good first step.
“How weight loss may ease an embarrassing problem.” Harvard Health Publications. Web. 28 Dec. 2011. http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/how-weight-loss-may-ease-an-embarrassing-problem
“Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Women Reduces Urinary Incontinence.” National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 28 Dec. 2011.
“Urinary Incontinence in Women.” National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Web. 28 Dec. 2011. http://www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uiwomen
Reviewed December 29, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith