Women often don't ask about incontinence treatment
Millions of people live with incontinence, but few talk about it because of the stigma attached to the condition. A new study published in Maturitas found doctors who asked women about their incontinence and helped treat it reduced incontinence symptoms two to three times more than doctors who ignored the condition until women complained.
Researchers from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands looked over questionnaires from 2,390 women at least 55 years of age. Of that number, a third (744) had involuntary urine loss at least once per month. Overall, 350 women had incontinence.
Primary care doctors were randomly divided into two groups: those who asked about incontinence and those who practiced standard care. The doctors who asked about incontinence tested patients for their symptoms and then followed up with urologists and physical therapists to create a treatment plan. Doctors in the standard care group waited until the patient was proactive about their incontinence.
One year later, 34 percent of the 105 women who started a treatment plan saw their symptoms improve due to physical therapy and lifestyle changes. Common treatments included pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, and biofeedback. Six women took medication, three had surgery, and 41 underwent further diagnostic testing. Of the 184 women in the standard care group, only three began treatment.
Getting treatment seemed to help greatly. In fact, women who had treatment were twice as likely to have reduced symptoms compared to women in the standard care group who did not receive treatment. This increased to three times for women with moderate to severe incontinence who were treated compared to those who were not.
The study concluded doctors need to be more proactive and ask women about their incontinence because there are viable options for improving quality of life.