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For young women, incontinence can happen regardless of pregnancy

Urinary incontinence may be just as common in younger women who have never been pregnant as it is in women who have had children, according to a new Australian study.

The researchers surveyed 1,002 women ages 16 to 30 who had never been pregnant, and found that 12.6 percent had issues with urinary incontinence. Other research has shown that 12 percent of women of the same age who have given birth report having urinary incontinence, the researchers said.

Although previous studies have linked pregnancy with an increased risk of urinary incontinence, the new research suggests the condition affects both mothers and women who have never had children, the researchers said.

In the study, women who had been sexually active and who were not taking birth control pills had the highest rate of urinary incontinence. The researchers found no other correlation between incontinence and other factors, including age, BMI and a history of urinary tract infections.

The women with incontinence also reported feelings of shame, and fear of embarrassment as a result of the condition. One-third of the women reported that they wore pads at least sometimes in order to minimize wetness, and the women also reported fear of leakage or odor.

The researchers concluded that the condition may influence the mental health of young women.

The researchers recruited survey participants from health clinics, universities and medical clinics.

The study was published today (July 16) in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Pass it on: Urinary incontinence may affect young women who have not had children as much as it affects young women who have.

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