Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice Observed

Reported prevalence of urinary incontinence in women in a general practice

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 07 May 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:1300
  1. Jacqueline V Jolleys


    To determine the prevalence of urinary incontinence and other urinary symptoms a questionnaire was sent to all women aged 25 and over and to women under 21 taking oral contraceptives registered with a rural practice (n=937); the questionnaire was completed by 833 women (89%). The overall prevalence of urinary incontinence was 41% (343/833); rates were lower in nulliparous and postmenopausal women (30/181 (17%) and 120/344 (35%) respectively) than parous and premenopausal women (313/652 (48%) and 225/479 (47%) respectively). Incontinence was significantly associated with perineal suturing after childbirth, being present in 201 of 376 (53%) women with sutures compared with 113 of 270 (42%) without. Of the 166 women with a history of minor gynaecological surgery, 100 had symptoms of incontinence, compared with 263 of the 657 (37%) without such a history. Incontinence was not related to type of delivery, and postnatal exercises for the pelvic floor were not beneficial.

    Inappropriate leakage of urine is perceived by many women as common and therefore not serious; thus it is often not reported to the doctor. Nevertheless, the 6% of women who always require protection against leakage could be helped by treatment.