More than 13 million people in the United States suffer from incontinence, both male and female. Women, however, experience incontinence twice as often as men, especially for post-partum women who experienced gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). These women are at increased risk for stress urinary incontinence for at least two years after delivery.
During pregnancy, some women may develop gestational diabetes, a form of insulin resistance. According to the National Institutes of Health, certain women are at a greater risk for gestational diabetes, especially those who:
- Are older than 25 when pregnant
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Gave birth to a baby that weighed more than nine pounds or had a birth defect
- Have high blood pressure
- Have excessive amniotic fluid
- Have had an unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth
- Were overweight prior to pregnancy
Urinary stress incontinence can result from normal functions–coughing, laughing, sneezing, or doing exercise. These simple activities create pressure on the urinary tract and involuntarily force urine out. According to WebMD, when pelvic floor muscles can’t support the female bladder properly, it drops down, disallowing the tightening of muscles that close off the urethra and causing urine to leak due to the extra pressure on the bladder.
A 2012 Taiwanese study investigated the impact of GDM on postpartum urinary incontinence in 6,653 pregnant women; a total of 580 of these women had GDM. The findings indicated that, at six weeks postpartum, the percentage of women with urinary incontinence was nearly 6% higher in the GDM group than the non-GDM group.
While the connection is not fully understood, researchers said that “diabetes and gestation/delivery may have additive or synergistic effects on postpartum urinary incontinence. However, the underlying biological pathway was not investigated in the current research, and merits further in-depth study.”
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