This study aimed to update estimates of urinary incontinence (UI) prevalence and associated risk factors for adult women in the United States, using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
We used descriptive analysis of 2015–2018 NHANES weighted data for women to estimate prevalence and characterize UI types and severity. Logistic regression modeling determined adjusted associations with UI.
Complete data were available for 5,006 women. In weighted analyses, 61.8% had UI, corresponding to 78,297,094 adult U.S. women, with 32.4% of all women reporting symptoms at least monthly. Of those with UI, 37.5% had stress urinary incontinence, 22.0% had urgency urinary incontinence, 31.3% had mixed symptoms, and 9.2% had unspecified incontinence. The prevalence of moderate or more severe UI by Sandvik Severity Index was 22.1%, corresponding to 28,454,778 adult U.S. women. In multivariate models, increasing age, body mass index ≥25, prior vaginal birth, anxiety, depression, functional dependence, and non-Hispanic White ethnicity and race were associated with any and moderate UI. Urinary incontinence was not associated with diabetes, education level, prior hysterectomy, smoking status, physical activity level, or current pregnancy status.
More than 60% of community-dwelling adult women in the United States experience any UI and an increase from prior estimates (38%–49%) using NHANES data from 1999 to 2004; more than 20% experience moderate or more severe UI. Increases in UI prevalence may be related to population aging and increasing obesity prevalence. Age greater than 70 years, body mass index >40, and vaginal birth had the strongest association with UI in multivariate modeling.