Factors influencing stress urinary incontinence in elite female athletes
More details
Hide details
Department of Physiotherapy in Locomotor Dysfunctions and Sports Medicine, Faculty of Physiotherapy, Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Katowice, Poland
Department of Individual Sports, Faculty of Physical Education, Academy of Physical Education in Katowice, Katowice, Poland
EGZOTech, Gliwice, Poland
Submission date: 2020-09-21
Acceptance date: 2020-11-19
Publication date: 2022-06-01
Physiother Quart. 2022;30(2):85-89
Practising high-impact sports, especially on a competitive level, has been identified nowadays as one of the risk factors of stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The purpose of our study was to verify the effect of selected factors, like age, parity, the intensity of trainings, achieved sports level, type of discipline, or the duration of sports experience, on SUI symptoms in a group of elite female athletes.

The study involved 112 elite women athletes: 55 practising running and 57 practising cross-country skiing. A combined questionnaire, which included Urogenital Distress Inventory, Incontinence Impact Questionnaire, King’s Health Questionnaire, and own career development questionnaire, was used as a research tool.

The prevalence of SUI in the studied female elite athletes was high (62.5%). No statistically significant differences regarding SUI symptoms were found between the group of skiers and the group of runners. A relationship between SUI occurrence and childbirth, but not age, was observed. A statistically significant relationship was revealed between the duration of sports practice and SUI occurrence (higher occurrence in the less experienced group). However, SUI occurrence did not correlate with the achieved sports level. A higher subjective assessment of the trainings intensity was correlated with a higher occurrence of SUI symptoms.

The occurrence of SUI in female runners and skiers depends on a history of giving birth, length of practising sports, and training intensity; it does not depend on age or the sports class.

Mota RL. Female urinary incontinence and sexuality. Int Braz J Urol. 2017;43(1):20–28; doi: 10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2016.0102.
Kulpa P. Conservative treatment of urinary stress incontinence. Phys Sportsmed. 1996;24(7):51–61; doi: 10.3810/psm.1996.07.1398.
Jean-Baptiste J, Hermieu J-F. Sport and urinary incontinence in women [in French]. Prog Urol. 2010;20(7):483–490; doi: 10.1016/j.purol.2010.02.007.
Thyssen HH, Clevin L, Olesen S, Lose G. Urinary incontinence in elite female athletes and dancers. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2002;13(1):15–17; doi: 10.1007/s001920200003.
Bø K. Urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, exercise and sport. Sports Med. 2004;34(7):451–464; doi: 10.2165/00007256-200434070-00004.
Eliasson K, Larsson T, Mattsson E. Prevalence of stress incontinence in nulliparous elite trampolinists. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2002;12(2):106–110; doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0838.2002.120207.x.
Lindland Ree M, Nygaard I, Bø K. Muscular fatigue in the pelvic floor muscles after strenuous physical activity. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007;86(7):870–876; doi: 10.1080/00016340701417281.
Nygaard IE, Thompson FL, Svengalis SL, Albright JP. Urinary incontinence in elite nulliparous athletes. Obstet Gynecol. 1994;84(2):183–187; doi: 10.1016/0020-7292(95)90255-4.
Poświata A, Socha T, Opara J. Prevalence of stress urinary incontinence in elite female endurance athletes. J Hum Kinet. 2014;44:91–96; doi: 10.2478/hukin-2014-0114.
Da Roza T, Brandão S, Mascarenhas T, Jorge RN, Duarte JA. Volume of training and the ranking level are associated with the leakage of urine in young female trampolinists. Clin J Sport Med. 2015;25(3):270–275; doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000129.
Uebersax JS, Wyman JF, Shumaker SA, McClish DK, Fantl JA. Short forms to assess life quality and symptom distress for urinary incontinence in women: the Incontinence Impact Questionnaire and the Urogenital Distress Inventory. Neurourol Urodyn. 1995;14(2):131–139; doi: 10.1002/nau.1930140206.
Kelleher CJ, Cardozo LD, Khullar V, Salvatore S. A new questionnaire to assess the quality of life of urinary incontinent women. Br J Obstet Gynaecol. 1997;104(12):1374–1379; doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.1997.tb11006.x.
Nygaard IE. Does prolonged high-impact activity contribute to later urinary incontinence? A retrospective cohort study of female Olympians. Obstet Gynecol. 1997;90(5):718–722; doi: 10.1016/S0029-7844(97)00436-5.
Bø K, Borgen JS. Prevalence of stress and urge urinary incontinence in elite athletes and controls. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(11):1797–1802; doi: 10.1097/00005768-200111000-00001.
Bø K, Backe-Hansen KL. Do elite athletes experience low back, pelvic girdle and pelvic floor complaints during and after pregnancy? Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2007;17(5):480–487; doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2006.00599.x.
Jácome C, Oliveira D, Marques A, Sá-Couto P. Prevalence and impact of urinary incontinence among female athletes. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2011;114(1):60–63; doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2011.02.004.
Simeone C, Moroni A, Pettenò A, Antonelli A, Zani D, Orizio C, et al. Occurrence rates and predictors of lower urinary tract symptoms and incontinence in female athletes. Urologia. 2010;77(2):139–146; doi: 10.1177/039156031007700210.
Bø K, Hilde G, Staer-Jensen J, Siafarikas F, Tennfjord MK, Engh ME. Does general exercise training before and during pregnancy influence the pelvic floor “opening” and delivery outcome? A 3D/4D ultrasound study following nulliparous pregnant women from mid-pregnancy to childbirth. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(3):196–199; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093548.
Caylet N, Fabbro-Peray P, Marès P, Dauzat M, Prat-Pradal D, Corcos J. Prevalence and occurrence of stress urinary incontinence in elite women athletes. Can J Urol. 2006;13(4):3174–3179.
Carvalhais A, Jorge RN, Bø K. Performing high-level sport is strongly associated with urinary incontinence in elite athletes: a comparative study of 372 elite female athletes and 372 controls. Br J Sports Med. 2018;52(24):1586–1590; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097587.
Lousquy R, Jean-Baptiste J, Barranger E, Hermieux J-F. Sport and urinary incontinence in women [in French]. Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2014;42(9):597–603; doi: 10.1016/j.gyobfe.2014.04.011.
Fernandes A, Fitz F, Silva A, Filoni E, Filho JM. Evaluation of the prevalence of urinary incontinence symptoms in adolescent female soccer players and their impact on quality of life. Occup Environ Med. 2014;71(Suppl. 1):A59–A60; doi: 10.1136/oemed-2014-102362.184.
Bidzan M, Owczarek M, Smutek J. The influence of biometeorological conditions on the life quality of the women treated for stress urinary incontinence in Gdańsk [in Polish]. Balneol Pol. 2005;3–4:94–100.
Hagovska M, Švihra J, Buková A, Hrobacz A, Dračková D, Švihrová V, et al. Prevalence of urinary incontinence in females performing high-impact exercises. Int J Sports Med. 2017;38(3):210–216; doi: 10.1055/s-0042-123045.
Rosa Coelho SdJ. Why should we be more concerned for the female athlete about high impact sports and urinary incontinence. JOJ Urol Nephrol. 2017;2(1):55556; doi: 10.19080/JOJUN.2017.2.555576.
De Mattos Lourenco TR, Matsuoka PK, Baracat EC, Haddad JM. Urinary incontinence in female athletes: a systematic review. Int Urogynecol J. 2018;29(12):1757–1763; doi: 10.1007/s00192-018-3629-z.
Carvalhais A, Da Roza T, Vilela S, Jorge RN, Bø K. Association between physical activity level and pelvic floor muscle variables in women. Int J Sports Med. 2018;39(13):995–1000; doi: 10.1055/a-0596-7531.
Dos Santos KM, Da Roza T, Tonon da Luz SC, Hort JP, Kruger JM, Schevchenco B. Quantification of urinary loss in nulliparous athletes during 1 hour of sports training. PM R. 2019;11(5):495–502; doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2018.08.383.
Alves JO, Tonon da Luz S, Brandão S, Da Luz CM, Jorge RN, Da Roza T. Urinary incontinence in physically active young women: prevalence and related factors. Int J Sports Med. 2017;38(12):937–941; doi: 10.1055/s-0043-115736.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top