Objectives: To determine the prevalence of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) symptoms in women and to evaluate the severity of these symptoms and resulting functional impairment with regard to urinary symptoms, quality of life (QoL) impairment, medical care seeking, and care facilities.
Methods: A national population based, cross-sectional study in France was conducted through an anonymous questionnaire that was completed by telephone. A randomized sample was extracted from the French telephone directory, December 2002 to March 2003. The main outcome measures were symptom severity, functional impairment, non SUI-related urinary symptoms, Contilife QoL scale, medical care seeking, and treatment. In total, 6,675 women aged 18-70 were selected and 5,160 questionnaires were completed and analyzed.
Results: The point-prevalence of SUI symptoms was 19.5% (1.1% for individuals with severe symptoms; 2.8% for those with severe functional impairment). Symptom severity and functional impairment were associated with older age, longer duration of symptoms, higher frequency of comorbid urinary symptoms, and altered QoL (all p < 0.001).
Conclusions: SUI symptoms are frequent in French women, causing embarrassment and negatively affecting their QoL. Though some could benefit from an effective therapy, only the most severely affected women who report SUI symptoms seek help and receive treatment.