Background: Although pregnancy is a risk factor for urinary incontinence (UI), the extent of UI in nulligravid women has not been reported.
Objective: To investigate the rate of UI in a sample of young nulligravid women and its potential risk factors and effect on quality of life.
Design: Cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire–based study.
Setting: University campuses and medical and allied health clinics.
Participants: Nulligravid Australian women aged 16 to 30 years.
Measurements: The Questionnaire for Urinary Incontinence Diagnosis, the Psychological General Well-Being Index (PGWBI), the King's Health Questionnaire, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form. Demographic variables and potential risk factors were also documented.
Results: 1018 of 1620 questionnaires (63%) were returned, and 1002 provided analyzable data. The mean age of participants was 22.5 years (SD, 3.2). The rate of any UI was 12.6% (95% CI, 10.5% to 14.7%). Incontinence was slightly more common in students than in nonstudents (13.2% [CI, 11.0% to 15.8%] vs. 10.6% [CI, 6.7% to 14.6%]). Rates of UI varied according to sexual activity and use of combined oral contraceptives (COCs), with highest rates reported by students who were ever sexually active and not using COCs (21.5% [CI, 16.7% to 27.3%]). Women with UI reported significantly lower overall well-being than women without UI and had worse PGWBI scores related to anxiety, depression, positive well-being, and self-control.
Limitation: A convenience sample of healthy, well-educated women was recruited, and response rates and participant characteristics varied by setting.
Conclusion: In a sample of young nulligravid women, UI was associated with ever being sexually active and no COC use, as well as lower psychological well-being. Further research is needed to assess the prevalence and risk factors for UI in nulligravid women.
Primary Funding Source: None.