Female urinary incontinence (UI), overactive bladder (OAB), and other lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) are highly prevalent conditions with a profound influence on well-being and quality of life. There are a few studies describing progression as well as remission, in the short term, of UI in the general population as well as in selected groups; at present, there are very few population-based studies describing the natural course of other LUTS in the same women, and there are no long-term longitudinal studies.
To describe the prevalence of UI, OAB, and other LUTS in the same women studied prospectively over time and, thus, to assess possible progression or regression.
A longitudinal population-based study was performed in one primary health care district in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The participants were a sample of women aged > or = 20 yr who were randomly selected from the Swedish National Population Register, assessed in 1991 (n=2911), and available for reassessment in 2007 (n=1408).
A self-administered postal questionnaire regarding UI, OAB, and other LUTS was returned by 77% of the contacted women in 1991. The same women who responded in 1991 and who were still alive and available in the Swedish National Population Register 16 yr later were reassessed using a similar self-administered postal questionnaire.
In 2007, 1081 of the available 1408 women responded to the questionnaire (77%). The overall prevalence of UI, OAB, nocturia, and daytime micturition frequency of eight or more times per day increased by 13%, 9%, 20% (p<0.001), and 3% (p<0.05), respectively, from 1991 to 2007. The incidence of UI and OAB were 21% and 20%, respectively, and the corresponding remission rates were 34% and 43%, respectively. Women with OAB symptoms were classified as OAB dry or OAB wet, depending on the presence or absence of concomitant UI. The prevalence of OAB dry did not differ between the two assessment occasions (11% and 10%, respectively), but the prevalence of OAB wet increased from 6% to 16% (p<0.001).
UI and other LUTS constitute dynamic conditions. In this study, there was a marked overall increase in the prevalence of UI, OAB, and nocturia in the same women from 1991 to 2007. Both incidence and remission of most symptoms were considerable.