It is now common knowledge that weight loss decreases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and enhances mood and quality of life. Obesity is known to be a risk factor for developing urinary incontinence.
Recent research has shown that weight loss in obese women significantly reduces the incidence of stress incontinence. Even though weight loss may be difficult, losing weight by whatever mechanism or program will lead to results.
This very interesting 6 month trial from San Francisco was performed in obese women between the ages of 42 and 64. A reduced-calorie diet and exercise program was followed by half the women, while the other half were only given reading material on weight loss. The women in the structured program had a mean weight loss of 8% (17 lbs), vs. those women who were not, who lost 1.6% of their weight (3.5 lbs).
The women in the weight loss group had a greater decrease in frequency of stress incontinence compared to the control group: 58% vs. 38%, as well as a decrease in all incontinence episodes: 47% vs. 28%. The women in the weight loss group at the end of the study perceived their incontinence had become less of a problem and had a higher satisfaction rate with this change in their incontinence.
Now, this study may also hold true for women who are overweight but not "obese". In general, less overall weight does mean good over health. Those women who are probably within 20 lbs of their expected weight for their height and age and who have stress incontinence, likely have stress incontinence due to other reasons. These include: vaginal birth, genetic predisposition, chronic straining (cough, heavy exercise), menopause or hysterectomy.