Premenopausal women who take oral contraceptives have lower rates of urinary incontinence compared with women who use other forms of contraception, according to a study published in the new issue of Fertility and Sterility, the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
The study suggests that the hormones in the pill have a positive influence on vaginal connective tissues, blood flow and skin thickness. Previous studies, such as the Women's Health Initiative, have found that hormones worsen symptoms of urinary incontinence. But, this study suggests, younger women react differently to hormone exposure.
The study, from Sweden, examined the relationship between oral contraceptive use and urinary incontinence while controlling for other factors such as body mass index, age and history of pregnancy. Though the pill was helpful in preventing symptoms, the study found that women who use a hormone-releasing intrauterine device did not have lower rates of incontinence compared with women who don't use hormonal contraceptives.
Doctors should consider the pill to treat premenopausal women with urinary incontinence, although more studies are needed on just how much effect hormones might have on the disorder, the authors said.
"With so many women using oral contraceptives, it is vital that we continue to fully understand their non-contraceptive effects, both positive and negative," Dr. Dale McClure, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said in a news release.
-- Shari Roan
Photo: Associated Press