Characteristics Associated with Pelvic Floor Disorders among Female Canadian Armed Forces Members

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2023 Sep;45(9):646-654. doi: 10.1016/j.jogc.2023.05.027. Epub 2023 Jun 1.


Objectives: Urinary incontinence (UI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) are prevalent pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) among the female population. In the military environment, being a non-commissioned member (NCM), and physically demanding occupations are factors associated with higher PFD risk. This study seeks to characterize the profile of female Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members reporting symptoms of UI and/or POP.

Methods: Present CAF members (18-65 years) responded to an online survey. Only current members were included in the analysis. Symptoms of UI and POP were collected. Multivariate logistic regressions analyzed the relationships between PFD symptoms and associated characteristics.

Results: 765 active members responded to female-specific questions. The prevalence of self-reported POP and UI symptoms were 14.5% and 57.0%, respectively, with 10.6% of respondents reporting both. Advanced age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.062, CI 1.038-1.087), a body mass index (BMI) categorized as obese (aOR: 1.909, [1.183-3.081]), parity ≥1 (e.g., aOR for 1: 2.420, [1.352-4.334]) and NCMs (aOR: 1.662, [1.144-2.414]) were factors associated with urine leakage. Parity of ≥2 (aOR: 2.351, [1.370-4.037]) compared to nulliparous and having a perception of a physically demanding job (aOR: 1.933, [1.186-3.148]) were associated with experiencing POP symptoms. Parity of ≥2 increased the odds of reporting both PFD symptoms (aOR: 5.709, [2.650-12.297]).

Conclusion: Parity was associated with greater odds of experiencing symptoms of UI and POP. Higher age, higher BMI, and being an NCM were associated with more symptoms of UI, and the perception of having a physically demanding role increased the likelihood of reporting POP symptoms.

Keywords: military; parity; pelvic organ prolapse; urinary incontinence.

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / complications
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders* / etiology
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse* / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence* / epidemiology