Urinary incontinence in United States Air Force female aircrew

Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Oct;94(4):532-6. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00374-9.


Objective: To determine if flying high-performance military aircraft capable of sustaining up to 9g increases the incidence of incontinence in United States Air Force female aircrew.

Methods: An anonymous survey addressing urinary incontinence was conducted among Air Force active-duty women on flying status. Respondents were asked if they had ever leaked urine and, if so, how much and at what time: off-duty, on-duty (not flying), or while flying. The survey was approved by the Air Force Surgeon General's Office and the Air Force Survey Branch.

Results: Two hundred seventy-four of 426 surveys were completed and returned, for a response rate of 64.3%. The overall prevalence of incontinence was found to be 26.3% (72 of 274). Of the women complaining of incontinence, 88.9% (64 of 72) stated that it had occurred off-duty, 31.9% (23 of 72) stated that it had occurred on-duty (not flying), and 18.1% (13 of 72) stated that it had occurred while flying. Risk factors for incontinence included crew position, vaginal parity, and age. The type of aircraft flown did not affect the incidence of reported incontinence.

Conclusion: The rate of urinary incontinence among female Air Force aircrew is similar to rates found in other surveys of the general population. Flying high-performance military aircraft did not affect the rate of incontinence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gravitation
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Military Personnel*
  • United States
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*