Pelvic floor disorders affect nearly one in four women

November 1, 2008

Pelvic floor disorders such as urinary and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse affect nearly 25% of US women.

Pelvic floor disorders such as urinary and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse affect nearly 25% of US women, and are even more prevalent in older and obese women, according to a report published in the Sept. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ingrid Nygaard, MD, of the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 1,961 women aged 20 and older who participated in the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Pregnant women were excluded from the study.

Overall, the researchers found that the prevalence of at least one pelvic floor disorder was 23.7%, with 15.7% of subjects reporting urinary incontinence, 9% reporting fecal incontinence, and 2.9% reporting pelvic organ prolapse. The investigators also found that the prevalence of at least one pelvic floor disorder steadily increased with age, ranging from 9.7% in women aged 20 to 39 to 49.7% in women aged 80 and older; and also that the prevalence steadily increased with body weight, ranging from 15.1% in underweight and normal weight women to 26.3% and 30.4%, respectively, in overweight and obese women.

Nygaard I, Barber MD, Burgio KL, et al. Prevalence of symptomatic pelvic floor disorders in US women. JAMA. 2008;300:1311-1316.