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Neurourol Urodyn. 2003;22(6):550-7.

Urinary incontinence across the lifespan.

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  • 1Department of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.



The objectives of the current study were (1) to measure type and severity of urinary leakage and (2) to investigate the association between these factors and age-related life events and conditions in three groups of Australian women with a history of urinary leakage.


Five hundred participants were randomly selected from women in the young (aged 18-22 in 1996), mid-age (45-50), and older (70-75) cohorts of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health (ALSWH) who had reported leaking urine in the 1996 baseline survey. Details about leaking urine (frequency, severity, situations) and associated factors (pregnancy, childbirth, body mass index [BMI]) were sought through self-report mailed follow-up surveys in 1999.


Response rates were 50, 83, and 80% in the young, mid-age, and older women, respectively. Most women confirmed that they had leaked urine in the past month, and the majority of these were cases of "mixed" incontinence. Incontinence severity tended to increase with BMI for women of all ages, and increased severity scores were associated with having urine that burns or stings. Additional independent risk factors for increasing incontinence severity were heavy smoking in young women, past or present use of hormone replacement therapy in older women, and BMI and history of hysterectomy in mid-age women.

Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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