Objective: To determine the prevalence of urinary incontinence (UI) in female patients (aged > or = 15 years) attending a cystic fibrosis (CF) centre, in whom stress UI could be common, as chronic coughing and sputum production are frequent symptoms associated with progressive lung disease in these patients.
Patients and methods: An anonymous questionnaire was completed by 176 women with CF (mean age 24.6 years, SD 5.8) during routine assessments as outpatients.
Results: In all, 72 patients (41%) were classified as never incontinent; occasional UI was reported in 61 women (35%). Regular UI, occurring twice or more a month for at least two consecutive months in the last year, was reported in 43 patients (24%). Regular UI was associated with increasing age and a lower mean (SD) forced expiratory volume/s (of that predicted) than in women with no urinary symptoms, at 26.9 (6.5) years and 53.5 (23.5)%, and 23.1 (5.4) years and 65.5 (23.2)%, respectively (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). All incontinent women recorded stress UI; coughing, laughing and physical activity were associated with UI in 92%, 33% and 21% of the patients, respectively.
Conclusion: Stress UI is a common symptom in women with CF. As urine loss can be under-reported to the healthcare providers, women should be asked about incontinence as part of their routine follow-up. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are effective in treating stress UI and should be considered for those with CF and regular UI.