February 9, 2006

Bladder problems usually fade after pregnancy

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Bladder control problems during
pregnancy can be stressful for some first-time moms, but they
typically improve quickly after childbirth, a new study shows.

Among 344 pregnant women researchers followed, 45 percent
developed overactive bladder symptoms by the 36th week of
pregnancy. Another 15 percent had overactive bladder along with
incontinence, or urine leakage.

However, three months after giving birth, only 8 percent
had overactive bladder syndrome -- defined as a frequent,
urgent need to urinate, both day and night. And just 3.5
percent still had urinary incontinence.

Still, the study found, women who suffered incontinence
often felt stressed and embarrassed by the problem, before and
after delivery.

Dr. Henriette Jorien van Brummen and her colleagues at
University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands report the
findings in the journal BJU International.

It's known that pregnant women often develop bladder
control problems, but there has been little study of how this
affects their quality of life, according to the researchers.

In the current study, nearly half of the women developed
overactive bladder without urine leakage by late pregnancy, but
they did not report a diminished quality of life. The added
problem of incontinence, however, did affect their emotional

"It's an issue that healthcare professionals need to
address when they deal with pregnant women and those who have
recently delivered, as it can cause real problems and
distress," van Brummen said in a statement.

There are a number of ways to aid bladder control problems,
including exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and
behavioral tactics like scheduled bathroom breaks.

A number of factors, according to van Brummen, may help
explain why pregnant women often develop temporary overactive
bladder and incontinence. Pressure on the bladder from the
growing uterus, and changes in urine production and hormonal
levels during pregnancy may all contribute.

SOURCE: BJU International, February 2006.