Prevalence, incidence and bothersomeness of urinary incontinence in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Int Urogynecol J. 2021 Jul;32(7):1633-1652. doi: 10.1007/s00192-020-04636-3. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Introduction and hypothesis: Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common and embarrassing complaint for pregnant women. Reported prevalence and incidence figures show a large range, due to varying case definitions, recruited population and study methodology. Precise prevalence and incidence figures on (bothersome) UI are of relevance for health care providers, policy makers and researchers. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the prevalence and incidence of UI in pregnancy in the general population for relevant subgroups and assessed experienced bother.

Methods: All observational studies published between January 1998 and October 2018 reporting on prevalence and/or incidence of UI during pregnancy were included. All women, regardless of weeks of gestation and type of UI presented in all settings, were of interest. A random-effects model was used. Subgroup analyses were conducted by parity, trimester and subtype of UI.

Results: The mean (weighted) prevalence based on 44 included studies, containing a total of 88.305 women, was 41.0% (range of 9-75%). Stress urinary incontinence (63%) is the most prevalent type of UI; 26% of the women reported daily loss, whereas 40% reported loss on a monthly basis. Bother was experienced as mild to moderate.

Conclusions: UI is very prevalent and rising with the weeks of gestation in pregnancy. SUI is the most common type and in most cases it was a small amount. Bother for UI is heterogeneously assessed and experienced as mild to moderate by pregnant women.

Keywords: Bother; Incidence; Pregnancy; Prevalence; Systematic review; Urinary incontinence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence* / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress*