Does Body Fat, Other Factors Cause Incontinence?


New research identifies 3 factors that may play a role in menopause-related storage lower urinary tract symptoms, or incontinence.

Body fat, slowed reaction time, and poor sleep are associated with women who experience urinary problems during and after menopause, a recently published study found.

The study noted that urinary issues, including frequent urination, nocturnal urinary urgency, stress incontinence, and urge incontinence, are very common among women at the time of menopause and in the years following.

Key Points:

- Researchers linked urinary troubles in menopausal women to excess body fat, poor sleep, and slowed reaction time.

- However, no direct cause and effect in the relationship of these common symptoms among women during and after menopause was documented.

While no causal relationships between weight, sleep, or reaction time were identified, the researchers said that their relationship to storage lower urinary tract symptoms is worth a closer look. “Careful evaluation of nonrestorative sleep, body fat and visceral fat accumulation, or delayed reaction time might reveal undisclosed storage LUTS in this population,” the authors concluded.

The research involved approximately 350 Japanese perimenopausal and postmenopausal women ages 40 to 76 years old enrolled in a health and nutrition education program at the menopause clinic of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital. The data was obtained through completed questionnaires from each of the women.

Nearly half of the women said they experienced urinary frequency more than once a week, including 22% saying it was a nearly daily occurrence. Stress incontinence was reported by 33% of the women, while nocturia and urge incontinence each bothered about 11% of the women.

Furthermore, stress incontinence was statistically linked to increased body fat (odds ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.03-1.09), while urge incontinence was associated with reaction time (odds ratio, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.01-1.19).

The study didn’t determine a cause and effect, so it’s unclear whether the urge to urinate in the middle of the night is caused by poor sleep or if the need to use the toilet is causing the poor sleep. Similarly, the authors said they were unable to determine whether excess weight was leading to urinary problems.

The study was published online by Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), and will appear in the print version later this year.

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