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07-07-2013 | Urology | Article

Slimming underwear gets one over urinary incontinence


Free abstract

medwireNews: Japanese researchers have found that weight loss underwear holds potential in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women.

Preliminary results from a single-arm pilot study show that wearing the underwear resulted in bladder neck elevation and reduced urinary incontinence symptoms - effects that were maintained for a week after women stopped wearing it.

The study, led by Sanae Ninomiya (Kyoto Koka Women's University), included 45 women with stress urinary incontinence who had a median of two births. They wore the underwear during the daytime for 12 weeks.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, the study authors found that, at rest, the bladder neck was elevated in all 45 women to a median 11.5 mm higher above the pubococcygeal line when they were wearing the underwear compared with when they were not.

The authors note that this elevation was comparable during pelvic strain, and was also significantly higher than that achieved when participants performed voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction without wearing the underwear (median, 11.7 vs 6.9 mm).

And, after wearing the underwear daily, women demonstrated significantly improved urinary incontinence symptoms at both 6 and 12 weeks.

At 6 weeks, the median 1-hour pad test result declined from 1.0 g to 0.0g, International Consultation Incontinence Questionnaire-Short Form (ICIQ-SF) scores fell from a median of 7 to 5, and the median number of incontinence episodes per week fell from 4 to 0. ICIQ-SF scores showed further significant decline to a median of 4 at 12 weeks, by which time there was also a significant improvement in median daily voiding frequency, decreasing from 7.7 at baseline to 7.0.

Furthermore, after a week of not wearing the underwear, there was no change in any of these outcomes or in bladder neck elevation.

The underwear is designed to strengthen the buttock muscles by increasing stride length, although the authors , writing in Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, note there is no scientific evidence for such an effect. Additionally, they found no association between the number of strides taken per day and bladder elevation or symptoms.

Nevertheless, they suggest that such underwear could provide a more convenient alternative to current treatment options for stress urinary incontinence, which are typically associated with poor adherence, and may require multiple clinic visits.

"Although a randomized controlled trial, short or long-term evaluation, and the elucidation of mechanism to elevate that bladder neck and to reduce the symptoms of [urinary incontinence] will be required, this pilot study has demonstrated that the use of underwear might be a promising treatment option for management of [urinary incontinence] symptoms," they conclude.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter