Context: Pelvic floor disorders (urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse) affect many women. No national prevalence estimates derived from the same population-based sample exists for multiple pelvic floor disorders in women in the United States.
Objective: To provide national prevalence estimates of symptomatic pelvic floor disorders in US women.
Design, setting, and participants: A cross-sectional analysis of 1961 nonpregnant women (>or=20 years) who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative survey of the US noninstitutionalized population. Women were interviewed in their homes and then underwent standardized physical examinations in a mobile examination center. Urinary incontinence (score of >or=3 on a validated incontinence severity index, constituting moderate to severe leakage), fecal incontinence (at least monthly leakage of solid, liquid, or mucous stool), and pelvic organ prolapse (seeing/feeling a bulge in or outside the vagina) symptoms were assessed.
Main outcome measures: Weighted prevalence estimates of urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse symptoms.
Results: The weighted prevalence of at least 1 pelvic floor disorder was 23.7% (95% confidence interval [CI], 21.2%-26.2%), with 15.7% of women (95% CI, 13.2%-18.2%) experiencing urinary incontinence, 9.0% of women (95% CI, 7.3%-10.7%) experiencing fecal incontinence, and 2.9% of women (95% CI, 2.1%-3.7%) experiencing pelvic organ prolapse. The proportion of women reporting at least 1 disorder increased incrementally with age, ranging from 9.7% (95% CI, 7.8%-11.7%) in women between ages 20 and 39 years to 49.7% (95% CI, 40.3%-59.1%) in those aged 80 years or older (P < .001), and parity (12.8% [95% CI, 9.0%-16.6%], 18.4% [95% CI, 12.9%-23.9%], 24.6% [95% CI, 19.5%-29.8%], and 32.4% [95% CI, 27.8%-37.1%] for 0, 1, 2, and 3 or more deliveries, respectively; P < .001). Overweight and obese women were more likely to report at least 1 pelvic floor disorder than normal weight women (26.3% [95% CI, 21.7%-30.9%], 30.4% [95% CI, 25.8%-35.0%], and 15.1% [95% CI, 11.6%-18.7%], respectively; P < .001). We detected no differences in prevalence by racial/ethnic group.
Conclusion: Pelvic floor disorders affect a substantial proportion of women and increase with age.