In a recent study, a link between urinary incontinence and negative sexual health outcomes was discovered. In a BJU International study, many women with urinary incontinence problems discussed their decline in sexual activity and sexual arousal over the past year or so. Additionally, men with urinary incontinence troubles also noted a decrease in sexual desire as well as difficulties with different sexual functions.
The English Longitudinal Study Of Aging
In light of these problems, these individuals were invited to participate in the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) that consisted of 3,805 participants. This study looked at aging, retirement, and health within middle-aged and older men and women who live in the England area. 20% of the women participants and 7% of the men participants reported issues with incontinence within the last 12 months. The results of their study showed that in fact, there was a significant link between declining sexual health and urinary incontinence problems.
Dr. David Lee, lead author of the study and doctor of Manchester Metropolitan University, discusses his findings. He explains, “Our findings highlight strong links between urinary incontinence and a number of negative outcomes regarding sexual health. Both urinary incontinence and later-life sexuality remain taboo subjects in society and are likely to be under-reported as coexisting health problems. Given the relatively high occurrence of incontinence, particularly among women, healthcare professionals should be aware of the potential impacts on quality-of-life and well-being, and recognize that sexual activity and satisfaction are key factors in this equation” (source).
The Silence Factor
Far too often, men and women dealing with incontinence and the decline of sexual desires are too ashamed to speak up about the problems they are experiencing. By keeping such a significant health problem a secret, these men and women are only reducing their overall quality of life. In that, researchers observed that signs of depression were greatly increased–strongly associating with the effects of lower sexual health due to urinary incontinence. Additionally, researchers also noted that many of the participants experienced high levels of anxiety and embarrassment due to the leakage, odor, and other effects that come with urinary incontinence. Luckily, with the right medical guidance, urinary incontinence and related sexual problems can be lessened and even cured.
In an additional study published in Sexual Medicine back in March of 2017, results showed that women with urinary incontinence were more likely to abstain from sexual activities far more than women who had little to no problems with incontinence. This stems from the embarrassment and bladder sensitivity that comes with urinary incontinence problems. Additionally, women who struggled with urinary incontinence also experienced less sexual desire, increased sexual discomfort, and less sexual satisfaction–more so than the men who dealt with incontinence issues as well. However, men with incontinence did admit to experiencing trouble with arousal, erectile dysfunction, and even the ability to orgasm during sexual activities.
Many doctors and physicians can’t stress enough the importance of speaking up; one should never feel ashamed or embarrassed about their experiences with urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunctions. The earlier you see a doctor, the better and faster they can come up with a treatment plan that will help you regain your normal desires.