Bladder Control Loss in Your Jeans, I Mean Genes

Genes explain more than half of risk for overactive bladder, urinary incontinence

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Bladder control problems are caused by a variety of factors. It is already known that DNA plays a role in losing bladder control, but a new study shows how important that role is.

Researchers found that more than half of a person's risk for developing overactive bladder - or loss of bladder control - can be explained by that person's genes. They also found that genes are important in explaining a person's risk for nocturne - the need to get up more than once a night to go to the bathroom.

"Genes play an important role in overactive bladder."

These results do not mean that half of all people with overactive bladder got the condition from their parents, explains Anna Lena Wennberg, a gynecologist and one of the researchers involved in the study.

It means, she continues, that about half of a person's risk is explained by that person's genetic makeup.

Wennberg does not think the one specific gene is responsible for loss of bladder control. Instead, she believes that many genes, combined with environmental factors and other diseases, raise a person's risk of overactive bladder.

Even though genes appear to be very important in overactive bladder, explains Wennberg, treatment of the condition will continue to address environmental factors for the time being, as they are easier to control.

For their study, they examined information about the twins' history of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and other urinary problems. The researchers were able to draw conclusions about the effect of genes on overactive bladder because identical twins have identical genes and non-identical twins share have of their genes.

The researchers found:

  • Genetic factors explain 51 percent of a person's risk for overactive bladder
  • Genetic factors explain 34 percent of a person's risk for nocturne
  • Wennberg and colleagues looked at more than 25,000 twins between the ages of 20 and 46.
Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 14, 2011
Last Updated:
September 15, 2011