Incontinence in MS Women Increasing

Stress urinary incontinence more likely in women with MS than general female population

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Many women do not seek medical care for urinary incontinence as they may not feel like it is a priority medical issue or they may feel too embarrassed to address it. Addressing the problem can help patients improve their quality of life, especially for those who are living with other medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

A recent study examined stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women with MS and the impact it had on their quality of life.

The study found that 55.9 percent of women with MS experience had some SUI and that a significant percentage of these women were burdened by the condition.

"Talk to your urologist if you are have problems urinating."

Alana M. Murphy, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic Glickman Urological Institute, and team conducted a twice a week study of 143 women scheduled for outpatient follow-up appointments at an Ohio MS center over the course of three months.

The women were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of demographic data, parity history, brief urologic, MS history, the Urogenital Distress Inventory (UDI-6) and the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ-7). The UDI-6 is a six item questionnaire and the IIQ-7 is a seven item questionnaire. Both the UDI-6 and IIQ-7 assess urinary incontinence through a four-point response scale.

Urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) was defined as an affirmative response to the question "Do you experience and, if so, how much are you bothered by urine leakage related to the feeling of urgency?"

SUI was defined as an affirmative response to the question "Do you experience and, if so, how much are you bothered by urine leakage related to physical activity, coughing or sneezing?"

The impact of SUI of physical activity was defined as an affirmative response to the question "Has urinary leakage affected your physical recreation such as walking, swimming or other exercise?"

Using these standards, 55.9 percent of the study participants experienced SUI, 70.6 percent experienced UUI and 44.8 percent had mixed urinary incontinence.

SUI is the most common form of urinary incontinence (UI) in women with 25 percent prevalence in the general adult female population.

UI is usually caused by problems with muscles or nerves that are used to stop or pass the flow of urine. The reason for a higher SUI rate in women with MS than in the general female population is unknown.

When comparing women with MS and no SUI with those who did experience SUI, MS women reporting SUI were on average about five years older and were heavier.

Forty-six percent of MS women with SUI were moderately or greatly bothered by the SUI and nearly one third indicated that SUI had a moderate or great impact on their physical activity. This is significant as many MS patients already feel impaired by their symptoms and physical activity is recommended to fight some of these symptoms such as fatigue.

Unfortunately, only 59 percent of the women in the study with any type of UI were under the care of a urologist. It is important for women with MS who are experiencing UI to feel comfortable seeking care as they are susceptible to other urinary tract problems.

Limitations to this study included the self-rated nature of the questionnaires and the inability to account for factors such as menopause or ethnicity. Also, the women who were recruited for the study were already seeking medical care for MS and therefore this may have caused selection bias in the study.

The article was published in the June edition of the International Neurourology Journal.

Authors of the study report having business connections with Allergan, Medtronic, Johnson and Johnson, American Medical Systems, Pfizer, Astellas and Teva.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 1, 2012
Last Updated:
May 3, 2013