ANN ARBOR, Mich. 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 dont 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 Womens 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:
|Contact: Katie Vloet|
University of Michigan Health System