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Incontinence related more to weight gain than menopause, study says

Review on April 14, 2009

A recent study looking at the causes of worsening middle-age incontinence shows that it is more closely related to weight gain than to menopause. Previous studies and common medical understanding have connected incontinence to the trademark hormonal imbalance of menopause. But scientists at University of California, Davis, say they have determined that urinary incontinence in women between ages 45 and 55 (the average age when menopause occurs) has more to do with the changing body shape that often occurs during that time.

Incontinence has widely been explained by shape changes to the urinary tract as a result of lessening levels of estrogen that takes place with menopause.

Incontinence weight

The researchers, headed by Dr. L. Elaine Waitjen, wanted to know if this common opinion was correct. They studied 2,415 women for a six-year period of time who had a history of incontinence as they passed through menopause. They defined worsening incontinence as increasing in the frequency, and, adversely, improving incontinence was defined as a decrease in the frequency.


The study resulted in 14.7% of the study subjects showing worsening signs over a six-year period, between 1996 and 2002. Those whose condition improved amounted to 32.4 percent. Almost 53% reported no change at all.

These results showed that there was not a large spike in the existence of incontinence as women passed through menopause. In fact, there was a larger percentage of women who actually gained bladder control.

The results showed that weight gain, which is also a menopausal symptom, was associated with worsening incontinence.


Some tips to improve incontinence are:

  • Try to shed some extra pounds
  • Perform Kegel exercises that strengthen pelvic muscles
  • Eliminate alcohol, tea and coffee
  • "Worsening incontinence not linked to menopause.""
  • Health Tip: Managing Urinary Incontinence." US News.