Black women have urinary incontinence less than half as often as white women

Apr 22, 2008

The good news for black women: They have less than half the chance of developing urinary incontinence as do white women, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Health System.

The bad news: When they get it, the condition tends to be worse than in white women. The amount of urine they lose during each episode of incontinence is larger, with half of black incontinent women reporting that they lose urine to the point of noticeably wetting their underwear or a pad, compared with a third of white women.

The significance: The study confirms some common beliefs, and refutes others. The medical community has long held the belief that black women don’t experience a type of urinary incontinence known as “stress incontinence,” in which urine is lost during activities such as exercising, coughing and laughing. In fact, the study found, black women do experience stress incontinence. The study is in the current issue of the Journal of Urology.

“This is a population that may have been neglected because it was believed for so long that black women did not have stress urinary incontinence,” says lead author Dee E. Fenner, M.D., Furlong Professor of Women’s Health, and director of gynecology, at the U-M Health System.

“In truth, black women suffer from the social embarrassment of urinary incontinence, and the medical community needs to remember this when diagnosing and treating all women.”

The study indicates that black women experience “urge incontinence” twice as often as white women, which supports other research on the subject. This type of incontinence involves a strong and sudden need to urinate, followed by leakage.

Additionally, it has been thought in the past that the other medical conditions associated with urinary incontinence are different between black and white women. This study suggests, however, that those conditions – such as diabetes, constipation, depression, obesity and chronic lung disease – occur at similar rates between the two races.

By the numbers:

-- About 27 percent of all women surveyed had the condition.
-- This study found that 14.6 percent of black women and 33.1 percent of white women have urinary incontinence.
-- Black women with incontinence reported having stress incontinence in about 25 percent of instances, compared with 39 percent of white women.
-- Black women with incontinence reported urge incontinence in 24 percent of cases, compared with 11 percent of white women. The remaining numbers had a combination of both types.
-- The women in the study ranged from 35 to 64 years old, with an average age of 42. Most of the women – nearly 70 percent – had delivered at least one baby vaginally; vaginal deliveries are often associated with urinary incontinence.
-- The study involved 1,922 black women and 892 white women from three southeastern Michigan counties. Data were collected through a telephone survey.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: West Africa's Ebola outbreak prompts changes in I.Coast cuisine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drinking tea may reduce ovarian cancer risk

May 31, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) have found that drinking tea may decrease your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Experts say US doctors overtesting, overtreating

Mar 12, 2010

(AP) -- Too much cancer screening, too many heart tests, too many cesarean sections. A spate of recent reports suggest that too many Americans - maybe even President Barack Obama - are being overtreated.

Cancer society casts more doubt on prostate tests

Mar 03, 2010

(AP) -- Months after experts discounted the importance of routine mammograms and Pap smears for many women, the American Cancer Society is warning more explicitly than ever that regular testing for prostate ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

10 hours ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

10 hours ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

22 hours ago

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.