A new study, reported in Obstetrics and Gynecology (December 2004), found that women with urinary incontinence spend less time walking, working, or socializing with family and friends, compared with women without the condition. In the study, the researchers surveyed 2190 women enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study in 2000. The participants were born in 1947 or earlier. Among the women surveyed, 22% had experienced urinary incontinence in the previous month.
The results of the study indicated that women with urinary incontinence were less likely to have done house cleaning, shopped, physically shown affection, or attended religious activities recently, compared with women who did not have incontinence. Furthermore, the participants spent less time walking, working for pay, or engaged in personal grooming or hygiene.
The researchers concluded that the findings may shed light on why urinary incontinence has been associated with depression, social isolation, falls, and psychological distress. Women's fear of unwanted urine leakage may stop them from exercising or participating in other beneficial activities and reduce their overall quality of life. The condition may also increase their chance of other health problems. The researchers recommended that physicians encourage their patients to be more active and offer them solutions to manage their condition in order to maintain a healthy quality of life.