Women of child-bearing age who use oral contraceptives face a lower risk of a leaky bladder than women of similar ages who do not take the pill, researchers from Sweden report.
Oral contraceptives have the potential to “positively influence” bladder function, Dr. Daniel Altman from Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Stockholm, told Reuters Health in an email.
Altman and colleagues surveyed female twins between the ages of 20 and 46 years about their use of contraception and their bladder health.
Among a total of 8689 twins, 2072 said they were current pill users whereas 118 were using hormone-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Women who were taking the pill were much less apt to report urinary incontinence, even after factoring out the impact of age, body weight and pregnancy.
Use of oral contraceptives was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of “stress” urinary incontinence, when small urine leaks out of the bladder when it is under pressure, and a 64% lower risk of “urge” urinary incontinence, when a person cannot control the flow of urine once they feel the need to urinate.
There was no reduction in the risk of urinary problems among IUD users.
Whether or not the pill may actually improve urinary incontinence symptoms in women with these problems is unclear, the investigators say.
SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, August 2009.