Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common condition with a great influence on the quality of life.
Up until now only a few studies on the prevalence of UI have been performed in the
Netherlands. In these studies only women or elderly men were included. The aim of this study
was to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with UI among adults in the
To determine this we performed a cross-sectional study in which we included 1257
respondents aged ≥ 18 years, thus creating a representative cohort that was equally distributed
regarding age, gender, region, and education level according to the population pyramid from
Statistics Netherlands. The participants completed the validated Groningen Defecation and
Fecal Continence Questionnaire. UI was defined as any involuntary leakage of urine during
the past six months.
The prevalence of UI in the total group was 36.8%. Women experienced UI significantly
more often than men (49.0% versus 22.6%, respectively, P < 0.001). We found that in both
men and women the prevalence of UI increased with aging (P = 0.003 and P < 0.001,
respectively). Remarkably, multivariate analysis revealed that age did not influence UI in
men. Men and women aged 18 to 39 also experienced UI (17.0% and 36.1%, respectively).
We established that diabetes mellitus, fecal incontinence, and constipation were risk factors
for UI. In women, obesity, vaginal hysterectomies, and vaginal parturition were also risk
factors for UI, as was prostate surgery in men.
We can conclude that the prevalence of UI in the Netherlands is high. Medical practitioners
should therefore not underestimate this problem, especially among young people. Because the
multivariate analysis revealed that in men age did not correlate significantly with UI, we
believe that the risk of developing UI increases with age because of diseases that are known to
lead to UI and not because of aging itself.
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