The risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse (POP) increases by three percent for every unit increase in the body mass index (BMI), medical doctors say, citing results of various clinical studies. With obesity becoming very common among women in the country, it may not be a wonder that this pelvic disorder may affect over 25 percent of adult women and costing the country over $300 billion annually.
Obesity has become very prevalent worldwide and has been estimated that by 2015 there would be around 2.5 billion people who may be overweight or obese. In the United States, it has been reported that obesity continues to increase at six percent every year. It is believed that over half of the adult women in the country are either overweight or obese.
Those who have a BMI of over 25 but below 30 are considered overweight. If the BMI goes over 30, then the person may be classified as obese. Calculating the BMI is done by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. So a female who weighs 195 lbs. and stands 5’4’’ has a BMI of 33.51 k/m2. Since she is 8.5 units over the ideal BMI of 25, this may mean she has increased her risk of developing SUI by 25.5 percent.
Another method of determining obesity is through the measurement of the waist circumference. Obese people usually have so much weight tucked in the waist area. This is very relevant since fat deposited in the abdominal region is one of the most important factors in the association of obesity with urinary incontinence. The more fat found in that area means the higher the risk of urinary problem.
Medical experts have yet to come up with an official explanation on the connection between obesity and incontinence. It has been suggested by some studies that any extra weight increases abdominal pressure which also puts additional pressure on the bladder and the urethra, affecting its mobility. This pressure has been thought to interfere with the blood and nerve supply in the pelvic organs. The balance of chemical messengers between nerve cells may also be altered.
Another explanation likens obesity to the later stages of pregnancy where there is chronic strain and stretching of the nerves, tissues, and muscles of the pelvic area causing it to weaken. These pelvic floor muscles are forced to support the excess fat in the abdomen.
While the number of women developing POP and SUI continues to rise, there are also cases of these conditions being effectively managed through weight reduction. Various studies have also shown that a reduction in weight has resulted to significant improvements in the SUI condition.
A study conducted in California and which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported a 70 percent drop in incontinence episodes by participants who had reduced their weights. It concluded that an average drop of 17 pounds in weight would translate to a reduction of 47 percent in the SUI condition.
Obesity has truly become a menace to society. Medical professionals fully agree with this and are well aware of the adverse effects. This has even prompted the largest medical association in the country to declare obesity as a disease.
Hopefully we will see a reduction of the number of obese people which may translate to lesser number of women affected with POP and SUI. This may mean less suffering for the millions of women who have been forced to take legal actions due to injuries resulting from vaginal mesh surgeries.