For Many Women, an Unexpected Benefit of Weight Loss: Decreased Incontinence

Northwestern Medicine
Women's Health January 23, 2018

Welcome to the new year!  If you are like most Americans, you have considered making a New Year’s resolution.  A recent poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion showed that, in preparation for 2018, 12% of American’s planning to make a resolution stated that they wanted to lose weight.  This was the most popular goal, tied only with the desire to be a better person.  Nine percent reported wanting to exercise more, and another 9% reported that they wanted to improve their overall health.  

Lifestyle changes around weight loss have many known health benefits. A less well-known but equally important benefit of weight loss is improvement in symptoms of urinary incontinence in women affected by this problem.  Did you know that in overweight women who leak urine as much as 10 or more times per weak, a 5-10% weight loss can make an enormous difference?  In one clinical trial, this amount of weight, lost through a 6-month diet and exercise program, resulted in an average decrease in leakage episodes of close to 50%, twice that of women in the control group!  Even better, over half of women in the weight-loss group saw a reduction in leakage episodes of over 70%.  When these women were followed for 12-18 months, most of the weight loss was sustained, and so were their improved incontinence symptoms.

To those women impacted by urinary incontinence who are dedicated to improving their overall health by losing weight this January, get ready to count among your rewards a significant decrease in your urine leakage symptoms.  In addition, always remember the resources available to help you with your pelvic health.  

An evaluation with a urogynecologist through the Integrated Pelvic Health & Urogynecology Program at Northwestern Medicine can lead to numerous treatment options that can help you meet your goals. For more information, or to make an appointment, visit or call 312.694.PFDS.

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