The Effect of Urinary Incontinence on Health-related Quality of Life: Is It Similar in Men and Women?

Urology. 2016 May;91:83-9. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2015.12.034. Epub 2016 Jan 28.


Objective: To compare the association between self-reported urinary incontinence (UI) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in men and women while taking chronic comorbidities into account, on the hypothesis that UI might negatively affect HRQoL differently in each sex.

Methods: In 2006, a total of 10,723 men (aged 57-67 years) and 3777 women (aged 52-67 years) participating in the GAZEL cohort ( completed a self-administered questionnaire including the Nottingham Health Profile to assess HRQoL. UI was defined as self-reported involuntary loss of urine in the past 12 months. Adjusted logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the association between impaired HRQoL and UI, taking age, chronic conditions, and other confounders into account. For each QoL dimension, we compared the strength of the associations between UI and HRQoL between the sexes by tests of interaction.

Results: Women were more likely than men to report both UI (13.9% vs 2.7%) and impaired HRQoL. UI was associated with impaired HRQoL in both sexes, mainly in the dimensions of energy (OR = 3.17 in men [95% CI 2.49-4.04] and 2.11 in women [1.75-2.54]), social isolation (OR = 2.29 in men [1.74-3.02] and 1.75 in women [1.44-2.12]), and physical mobility (OR = 2.05 in men [1.62-2.60] and 2.27 in women [1.88-2.74]). There were no significant interactions between the sexes after adjustment.

Conclusion: UI was associated negatively with HRQoL in both sexes, mostly in the dimensions of energy, social isolation, and physical mobility. The association was similar in men and women after we took age, sociodemographic characteristics, and chronic diseases into account. The cross-sectional design of the analysis prevents any conclusion that UI induced an impairment of HRQoL, and no causal relation can be inferred.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Urinary Incontinence* / complications
  • Urinary Incontinence* / diagnosis