Two-thirds of older female patients don't discuss incontinence with physicians, survey finds

Researchers at Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan conducted a national poll asking women over the age of 50 if they talk about incontinence with their physician and found only two-thirds did.

Here are four things to know:

1. About 1,000 women between the ages of 50 and 80 answered the poll. About 43 percent of the women in their 50s and early 60s indicated they had experienced urinary incontinence.

2. The study found two-thirds of the women who had urinary incontinence did not bring it up to their physician due to embarrassment. About 38 percent indicated they did the exercises to strengthen the muscles that keeps urine in. About 79 percent of women noted common triggers were coughing or sneezing. About 49 percent of women leaked while laughing and about 37 percent said it happened while exercising.

3. The poll also indicated women coped with the urinary incontinence by using pads, specialized underwear, darker clothing or limiting their fluid intake.

4. These findings indicated physicians should routinely ask their older female patients about issues regarding incontinence.

"The last thing that older women should be doing is avoiding exercise or not being able to enjoy other activities that make life worthwhile," Preeti Malani, MD, director of the poll and a professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, said in a statement. "We hope these findings will help spur conversations between women and their healthcare providers so that activities aren’t limited."

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