Smoking linked to bladder symptoms in women

September 1, 2011

Women who smoke or who have smoked are more likely to experience bladder symptoms of urgency and frequency than women who have never smoked, according to a new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology (2011;118[3]:643-648).

Women who smoke or who have smoked are more likely to experience bladder symptoms of urgency and frequency than women who have never smoked, according to a new study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology (2011;118[3]:643-648).

To examine the relationship between smoking status and intensity and bladder symptoms, researchers mailed questionnaires to 3,000 women between 18 and 79 years of age chosen at random from the Finnish Population Register. The women were questioned about their smoking habits and symptoms of frequency, nocturia, stress urinary incontinence (SUI), urgency, and urgency urinary incontinence (UUI).

Of the 2002 (67%) women who responded, 7.1% reported frequency, 12.6% nocturia, 11.2% SUI, 9.7% urgency, and 3.1% UUI. Multivariable analyses revealed that smoking was associated with urgency and frequency among current and former smokers, but not SUI, nocturia, or UUI. Compared with light smoking, current heavy smoking increased the risk of urgency and frequency.

“Urgency and frequency are approximately 3 times more common among current than never smokers,” the authors write. “Parallel associations for urgency and frequency with smoking intensity suggest a dose-response relationship.” They note that their findings “suggest an additional rationale for smoking cessation in women seeking medical attention for urinary storage symptoms and highlight the diversity between such symptoms.”

Data on smoking and female urinary incontinence are inconsistent, the researchers say, perhaps because earlier studies failed to differentiate types of incontinence or analyzed all urinary symptoms as a group. They note that “there is a dire lack of studies on this topic.” Their analysis didn’t find a statistically significant association between smoking and SUI or UUI.

Read other articles in this issue of Special Delivery.