Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the association between body mass index (BMI) and pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and bother among overweight and obese women with urinary incontinence before and after weight loss.
Methods: Women (N = 338) were randomized to either an intensive 6-month weight loss or educational program (control); they were evaluated for prolapse symptoms at baseline and 6 months. Symptomatic prolapse was defined as a positive response to at least 1 prolapse subscale question of the Urogenital Distress Inventory. “Bother” was defined as responses of slight, moderate, or great. Women with prolapse symptoms were analyzed by baseline BMI category: overweight, obese, and severely obese at baseline and at 6 months. Proportional odds regression and χ2 tests for trend were used for analysis.
Results: Age mean was 53 (SD, 10) years, BMI mean was 36 (SD, 6) kg/m2, and 78% were white. A higher proportion of obese women reported feeling vaginal bulging compared with overweight women (13% vs 0%, P = <0.01). At baseline, 37% (n = 124) reported bothersome “lower abdominal pressure”; 18% (n = 62), bothersome “heaviness in the pelvic area”; and 14% (n = 48), bothersome “pelvic discomfort when standing.” Nine percent (n = 31) reported bothersome “feeling,” and 2% (n = 6) reported bothersome “seeing a bulge” in the vagina. At 6 months, there were no significant differences in improvement of self-reported bothersome prolapse symptoms in women in the weight loss or the control group.
Conclusions: In this study of overweight and obese women, increasing BMI was associated with only “feeling” a vaginal bulge. Weight loss did not improve bothersome prolapse symptoms.