Jul 16, 2015
Study: Stress Urinary Incontinence Common and Treatable

A little known condition in female athletes might also be one of the most common: stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Caused by a dysfunction in the pelvic floor, SUI is defined as the involuntary leaking of urine during exercise or even when laughing or coughing.

In a post at philly.com, Ellen Casey, physician with Drexel University Sports Medicine, cites a study that found 25 to 28 percent of high school and collegiate female athletes have reported SUI. And the incidence is even higher in sports that put more pressure on the pelvis, like gymnastics and trampoline, where 60 to 80 percent of athletes reported the condition.

Casey writes that the dysfunction is often associated with pregnancy, when the muscles in the pelvic floor can become stretched and weakened. But the numbers show that SUI is also prevalent among populations who have never had children, and sometimes the condition can occur because the muscles are too tight and cannot contract quickly during high-impact sports.

SUI can be treated, however, and that treatment may prevent women from quitting sports due to discomfort and embarrassment. Upon diagnosis, women’s health physical therapists, gynecologists, urologynecologists, or certain sports medicine physicians can provide an exercise regimen to either relax or strengthen the pelvic floor. 

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