No study has compared the bothersomeness of all lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) using a population-based sample of adults. Despite this lack of evidence, investigators have often cited their LUTS of interest as the “most bothersome” or “one of the most bothersome.”
To compare the population- and individual-level burden of LUTS in men and women.
Design, setting, and participants
In this population-based cross-sectional study, questionnaires were mailed to 6000 individuals (18–79 yr of age) randomly identified from the Finnish Population Register.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis
The validated Danish Prostatic Symptom Score questionnaire was used for assessment of bother of 12 different LUTS. The age-standardized prevalence of at least moderate bother was calculated for each symptom (population-level burden). Among symptomatic individuals, the proportion of affected individuals with at least moderate bother was calculated for each symptom (individual-level bother).
Results and limitations
A total of 3727 individuals (62.4%) participated (53.7% female). The LUTS with the greatest population-level burden were urgency (7.9% with at least moderate bother), stress urinary incontinence (SUI) (6.5%), nocturia (6.0%), postmicturition dribble (5.8%), and urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) (5.0%). Burden from incontinence symptoms was higher in women than men, and the opposite was true for voiding and postmicturition symptoms. At the individual level, UUI was the most bothersome for both genders. Although the response proportion was high, approximately a third did not participate.
Both men and women with UUI report moderate or major bother more frequently than individuals with other LUTS. At the population level, the most prevalent bothersome symptoms are urgency, SUI, and nocturia.
Urinary urgency was the most common troubling symptom in a large population-based study; however, for individuals, urgency incontinence was the most likely to be rated as bothersome.
Take Home Message
Population-based study assessing bother of individual lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) found the highest age-standardized prevalence for bothersome urgency. However, among individuals affected by LUTS, urgency incontinence was the most likely to cause significant bother. LUTS were generally well tolerated across ages and genders.