NIH Conference on Prevention of Urinary and Fecal Incontinence in Adults

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • A few weeks ago the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held their much-anticipated State-Of-The-Science Conference on the Prevention of Urinary and Fecal Incontinence in Adults. I mentioned the conference briefly in my SharePost: "Do I Have Incontinence?", but I thought this week I would give you a more comprehensive overview of the findings.


    According to the information presented to the panel of experts charged with creating a statement regarding the prevention of incontinence, about 25% of Americans will experience some sort of incontinence in their adult life.


    But, less than half of those people will tell their health care provider without first being asked. As a result of this information, one of the major recommendations made by the panel was that health care providers initiate the conversation regarding incontinence, and that further studies be done on how exactly to start that conversation and ask the "right" questions (for example, it's been noted that many individuals may say that they don't experience incontinence when asked outright, but when asked if they wear absorbent products they will say yes).

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    Among the suggestions for actually preventing incontinence, the panel recommended that episiotomies not be routinely performed during childbirth. They also found the following list of behavioral and lifestyle issues to be contributing factors (in my previous SharePosts I share some information about how each of these factors can contribute to incontinence):

    • Obesity
    • Limited exercise
    • Poor diet
    • Smoking


    At first glance much of this information may not seem all that ground-breaking, however the conference itself, and some of its findings, are somewhat indicative of a culture change. The chair of the conference panel, C. Seth Landefeld, M.D., Director of the Center on Aging at the University of California San Francisco, stated that "It's time to remove the stigma associated with urinary and fecal incontinence."


    When we get down to it, that's what I believe this is really all about. By removing the stigma, we'll start to see more conferences of this sort being done, and more money and resources going into the research that's so badly needed in this field. Out of that research we'll see new coping techniques, treatments, and therapies coming into the marketplace. By shifting our culture's perception of incontinence from "yucky" to "since a quarter of us experience this, let's do something about it" we will change the quality of life for literally tens of millions of Americans!


    To read the entire statement for yourself, please visit

Published On: January 07, 2008