Lawrence JM et al. (2008) Prevalence and co-occurrence of pelvic floor disorders in community-dwelling women. Obstet Gynecol 111: 678–685

Pelvic floor dysfunction is currently under-reported and undertreated, hence there is a severe lack of data available on the prevalence of such disorders. Lawrence et al. used the Epidemiology of Prolapse and Incontinence Questionnaire to assess the prevalence and co-occurrence of stress urinary incontinence (SUI), overactive bladder (OAB), pelvic organ prolapse, and anal incontinence in a sample of 12,200 community-dwelling women aged 25–84 years.

The overall prevalence of any one or more pelvic floor disorder was 37% (95% CI 35.8–38.9%) for the 4,103 women for whom full data was available. The individual prevalence of SUI was 15%, OAB 13%, pelvic organ prolapse 6%, and anal incontinence 25%. Although the unadjusted prevalence of SUI, OAB and anal incontinence each significantly increased with increasing age (P <0.01 for all), age was not associated with the prevalence of any pelvic floor disorder in multivariate analysis adjusted for common confounding factors. The presence or absence of all four disorders was assessed in 3,799 women (93% of the total sample); 67% of those who had any pelvic floor disorder were found to have an additional pelvic floor disorder, the most common combination being SUI and anal incontinence (9%, 95% CI 7.9–9.7).

More than a third of women are affected by at least one pelvic floor disorder; clinicians treating women with pelvic floor dysfunction should enquire about symptoms of other lower urinary tract conditions.