Demystifying The Relationship Between Overweight And Incontinence

Created Date: 2016-08-11 Comment: 0

Obesity is generally associated with numerous complications and is also known to worsen any existing illness. One such condition that is negatively impacted by obesity is urinary incontinence. Several case studies have proved the connection between urinary incontinence and obesity. As obesity has been an independent risk factor causing both mixed as well as stress related urinary incontinence, both these conditions are directly associated with each other. Besides, obesity is a major risk factor that accounts for regular urinary incontinence, when compared to any other factor. Further, the connection or association between incontinence and obesity is stronger in case of stress induced incontinence.


Being a predominant risk factor contributing for urinary incontinence, obesity impacts incontinence, wherein the severity and the susceptibility of the symptoms are closely related to the Body Mass Index (BMI). Although the actual mechanism behind this relationship is yet to be completely established, the strong connection between intra-abdominal pressure and BMI is considered to be a vital factor in the development of urge urinary incontinence as well as stress induced urinary incontinence. In addition, individuals who are overweight are also known to show reduced velocities of nerve conduction, which potentially impacts the actual time taken by the nerve signals that control the bladder function to be transmitted. This might have some effect in case of overflow incontinence.

Relationship between Urinary Incontinence and Abdominal Fat

Fat deposition around the abdomen is a significant factor, which is associated with urinary incontinence and obesity. Constantly increasing waist to hip ratio as well as a rise in the BMI are known to directly impact stress induced incontinence. However, these factors are not associated with mixed or urge incontinence products.

Pathology behind Urinary Incontinence and Obesity

Although the exact pathology report that connects increase in weight and incontinence are not completely elucidated, the relationship between the two has been proved. However, there are studies, which suggest that excessive body weight leads to an increase in the abdominal pressure. This increased abdominal pressure increases the bladder pressure as well as mobility of urethra. Such a condition leads to stress related urinary incontinence and is also responsible for overactive bladder.

In certain cases, such as later stages of the pregnancy, obesity might lead to stretching, chronic pain as well as the weakening of the muscles and nerves of pelvic area. This also contributes to urinary incontinence.

Impact of Weight Reduction on Urinary Incontinence

Weight reduction surgeries as well as weight reduction have also shown to reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence. For instance, a study showed that, obese women who have a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2, who are planning a weight reduction surgeries, have an incontinence prevalence of 60% to 70%.

In such women, the frequency of stress induced incontinence is as less as 28%, the chances of pure urge type is as less as 4% and the mixed type is close to 32%. Weight loss with lifestyle and behavioral measures, such as liquid diet, low calorie diet or intensive lifestyle measures including exercise will also help in improving urinary incontinence.

Epidemiological Studies Supporting the Association between Obesity and Incontinence

Some of the epidemiological studies have also shown that obesity is one of the strong and independent risk factor responsible for incident and prevalent urinary incontinence. Such studies have inferred that with every 5-unit increase in the body mass index there is about 20% to 70% increase in the risk contributing to urinary incontinence.

Therefore, people who are overweight are generally at higher risks of developing urinary incontinence. The extra weight around the waist induces pressure and stress on the pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, maintaining an ideal BMI will reduce the risk of urinary incontinence or if you are already suffering from this condition, then it prevents frequent bladder irritation.

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