, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 1081-1085
Date: 24 Jul 2013

Gender differences in bladder control: from babies to elderly

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Abstract

In both sexes, there are anatomical and behavioral differences in dealing with bladder control, as well as voiding and incontinence. Despite intensive research within the last decades, the differences in physiology and pathophysiology as well as gender differences of bladder control and continence are still poorly understood and further research is highly needed. In babies, gender difference seems to be most likely caused by a difference in maturity rate of the bladder. After gaining bladder control, behavior starts to be influenced by socialization. During preschool and school, children experience a negative perception of school toilets. Especially girls crouch over the toilet seat and train to empty the bladder without relaxation of the pelvic floor. This posture may lead to bladder dysfunction. Often adult women continue this bad habit and bladder dysfunction may consolidate. From the fourth decade in both sexes lower urinary tract symptoms start to develop. However, men and women handle the problem variedly showing gender differences in coping strategies with better coping mechanisms in women. In general, gender difference in help seeking and receiving treatment increases with younger age. In elderly, urinary incontinence is only associated with a higher mortality in men, and elderly men seek more often professional help. Aim of the review is to provide an insight into gender differences of bladder control and bladder dysfunction.