Often, it starts after the baby's born: You head to aerobics class, ready to shed
those extra pounds, and in the middle of the workout...an accident.
This embarrassing little problem is urinary incontinence, and lots of
women -- regardless of age -- are secretly dealing with it. More than 13
million Americans have incontinence, and women are twice as likely to have it
as men, according the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. About 25% to
45% of women suffer from urinary incontinence, defined as leakage at least once
in the past year. The rates of urinary incontinence increase with age: 20%-30%
of young women , 30%-40% of middle-aged women, and up to 50% of older women
suffer from urinary incontinence.
"It's embarrassing, and it can really affect your quality of life - your
emotional state, body image, sexuality," says
Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, professor of female pelvic medicine at Loyal University
Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Yet many put up with incontinence needlessly, Brubaker tells WebMD. "People
don't realize it's a medical condition, and that there's help. Many women think
it's normal, part of having children or going into menopause."
Though incontinence is "more common than you might think," it's not normal
says Brubaker, who sees teens, and women in their 20s,
30s, or older with this issue. "You don't have to put up with it. There are
often simple solutions that work."