Incontinence and obesity

  • Why there is a link between incontinence and obesity

    Updated on 16/05/2019

    For several years obesity has been linked as a risk factor for incontinence. Numerous studies link both pathologies, especially in women, although it affects both sexes and from an early age. According to experts, overweight and obesity are the main risk factor for urinary incontinence (UI), although they point out that weight loss can be solved and its effects reversed.

    It has been proven that there is a relationship between the increase in the Body Mass Index (BMI) and the increase in the risk of UI, between 20% and 70%. In addition, for each increase of 5 units of the BMI in a period of 5 to 10 years increases the risk of suffering UI between 30% to 60%.
    It is also established that weight gain is more related to stress incontinence, including mixed incontinence, than to urge incontinence and overactive bladder syndrome.

    Obesity can also lead to a deformation of the pelvic area, stretching and weakening the muscles of this area, which could contribute to the development of UI.

  • Obesity affecting your bladder

    Several years with obesity can also be associated with an increased risk of developing postmenopausal UI, compared to the reference group. The severity of UI is also associated with a greater excess of weight in relation to the duration of overweight and obesity. Women with obesity at 18 years have a higher risk of developing postmenopausal UI compared to those developing it at a later stage.

    However, there is a solution for UI related to overweight. The reduction of body weight from 10% to 5% there would start to be an improvement in the UI, and from 13% the pressure on the bladder would begin to decrease. In addition, it has been observed that women with severe obesity (more than 45 kg above ideal weight) with incontinence who had a drastic weight loss after bariatric surgery (45 to 50 kg) had a significant improvement in UI. The prevalence of UI due to stress decreased from 61% at the beginning of the study to 12% after weight stabilisation in 2 to 5 years.


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