Most older women seek help for the need to pee

Most women talk with their doctor about urinary incontinence when symptoms get worse, which is a good thing, says Elaine Waetjen, because it is readily treatable. (Credit: John/Flickr)

Regardless of their racial, ethnic, educational, or socioeconomic background, women are likely to seek medical help for a fairly common symptom of aging: urinary incontienence.

The study included more than 3,302 study participants from six sites across the United States.

Findings show most women talked with their health-care provider about urinary urgency incontinence—leaking with the immediate need to reach the restroom—or stress incontinence—leaking with “coughing, laughing or sneezing”—over the nine years they were followed.

Treatment options

All of the participants were transitioning through menopause. About 68 percent of women reported monthly or more frequent urinary incontinence, either leakage with urgency or with coughing, sneezing, or exercising.

Earlier studies have suggested that African-American women and women of lower socioeconomic backgrounds were less likely to seek treatment.

“Our study results do not support previous findings that black women or women with lower socioeconomic circumstances are either less likely to seek care only at a higher level of bother of urinary incontinence frequency than white women or women of higher socioeconomic resources,” says Elaine Waetjen, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of California, Davis.


Rather, the strongest associations with seeking care were worsening and persistence of symptoms. That is important, Waetjen says, because urinary incontinence is readily treatable.

“By discussing their urinary incontinence with a health-care provider, women can learn about the variety of treatment options available to them, from behavioral changes to medications and surgery,” she says.

Other researchers from UC Davis and from University of California, Irvine, are coauthors of the study that was published online in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The National Institutes of Health funded the work.

Source: UC Davis