The Association of Serum Testosterone Levels and Urinary Incontinence in Women

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Purpose:Pelvic floor integrity is an important predictor of stress urinary incontinence. Androgen receptors have been found in the pelvic floor musculature and fascia, and testosterone administration has been shown to increase levator ani hypertrophy and improve stress incontinence in a rodent model. We examined the relationship between serum total testosterone levels and self-reported urinary incontinence in women.Materials and Methods:We included women older than 20 years in the 2012 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) cycle who underwent serum total testosterone measurement and answered self-reported urinary incontinence questions. A weighted, multivariate logistic regression model was used to determine the association between incontinence and serum testosterone levels after adjusting for age, body mass index, diabetes, race, parity, menopause and time of venipuncture.Results:A total of 2,321 women were included in analysis, of whom 37.5% had stress incontinence, 29.8% had urge incontinence and 16.4% had mixed incontinence. Women in the lowest quartile of serum testosterone were more likely to complain of stress and mixed incontinence (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.03–2.12 and OR 1.68, 95% CI 1.23–2.22, respectively). No association was noted between serum testosterone levels and urge incontinence.Conclusions:Low serum testosterone is associated with an increased likelihood of stress and mixed incontinence in women. Given the role of pelvic musculature in maintaining urethral support and the anabolic effect of androgens on skeletal muscle, a physiological mechanism for this relationship can be proposed and further evaluated in prospective and translational studies.

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