Half Of Women Over 50 Experience Incontinence

woman on side of bath

There should be no reason for women to be embarrassed about discussing certain medical issues with their doctors. But when the issue at hand is something that isn't talked about openly, or causes personal embarrassment for the woman, they may be more likely to ignore it and not seek help or treatment. A recent survey found that half of women over the age of 50 have urinary incontinence, which isn't itself entirely surprising.

Urinary incontinence is a common problem in women, particularly during pregnancy, after childbirth, and over the age of 50. However, the same survey found that the majority of women do not discuss their incontinence with their medical providers, choosing instead to cope with it themselves.

The survey, called the National Poll on Healthy Aging, was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. More than 1000 women between the ages of 50 and 80 responded to the poll. The data showed that 43% of women in their 50s and early 60s have experienced urinary incontinence, and 51% of women over the age of 65 have experienced it, as well.

But two-thirds of the respondents say they haven't talked to their doctor about it, and only 38% reported doing pelvic floor exercises in an attempt to resolve their incontinence. 41% of women who reported experiencing urinary incontinence said it was a major or somewhat major problem, and one-third had a leaking episode at least once a day.

older woman
Credit: iStock / :Ridofranz

Rather than discuss the issue with their doctor, 59% of women said they'd bought special pads or undergarments to deal with the issue, while 16% said they'd reduced the amount of liquids they drink, and 15% said they wore different clothing to hide accidents. It's so disheartening to hear this, since urinary incontinence is such a common issue and there are treatment options available, both surgical and non-surgical. In fact, pelvic floor exercises, which can be done at home, have proven to be a very effective treatment when done correctly and consistently.

Hopefully, this survey highlights the importance of medical providers opening up that line of communication with their patients, so they don't have to suffer in silence and can get real help for their issue.

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