Treatment of urinary incontinence in overweight women by a multidisciplinary lifestyle intervention

  • Annette FjerbækEmail author
  • Lise Søndergaard
  • Jane Andreasen
  • Karin Glavind
General Gynecology



Urinary incontinence (UI) is a frequent and complex condition that negatively affects women’s quality of life (QoL). Weight loss and pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) are first-line treatments of UI. The study aimed to reduce the symptoms of UI on QoL in overweight women by a multidisciplinary intervention including diet, physical exercise, and PFMT.


In this non-blinded prospective interventional study, women with stress or mixed UI were included in an intervention combining dietary counseling, physical exercise in groups, and individually planned PFMT. The primary outcome measure was the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF). The Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-I) was used at 12 and 36 weeks. Also, anthropometric measures, pelvic floor muscle strength (PFMS), and physical performance were measured at baseline, 12, and 36 weeks. The primary aim of this study was to reduce the ICIQ-UI SF score by minimum of 2.6 points.


Thirty-three women participated in the study. Nine dropped out during the intervention. The ICIQ-UI SF score was reduced by 6.8 and 4.5 points at 12 and 36 weeks, respectively. PGI-I revealed satisfaction with the results. Furthermore, weight was reduced by 2.6 and 3.6 kg at 12 and 36 weeks, respectively, and PFMS improved significantly.


Despite a limited mean weight loss of 3.6 kg, participants reported a significant decrease in the symptoms and the burden of UI. Using PFMT as an integrated part of the intervention might have contributed to the improvements and could be subject to future research.


Urinary incontinence Weight loss Diet Physical exercise Pelvic floor muscle training 


Author contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. AF: protocol/project development, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing. LS protocol/project development, data collection, data analysis, manuscript writing. JA: project development, data analysis, manuscript editing. KG: project development, data analysis, manuscript editing. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Annette Fjerbæk and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


The study was undertaken with financial support from the Department of Health Promotion, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study received all required approvals from the Danish Data Protection Agency (2008-58-0028) and the Scientific Ethical Committee (N-20150029) for the Region of North Denmark.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiotherapy and Occupational TherapyAalborg University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Health PromotionAalborg University HospitalAalborgDenmark
  3. 3.Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Department of Health, Science and TechnologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Gynecology and ObstetricsAalborg University HospitalAalborgDenmark

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