Urinary leakage during exercise: problematic activities, adaptive behaviors, and interest in treatment for physically active Canadian women

Urine loss during recreational exercise is problematic. We aimed to characterize which activities are most frequently reported as causing leakage for women, adaptive management mechanisms, and awareness and interest in treatment in a cohort of physically active women.

We administered an anonymous questionnaire to 59 physically active women in Canada. Surveys were completed electronically or on paper. Demographic information was obtained. Questions about which specific activities caused leakage, adaptive behaviors to deal with urinary loss, and degree of bother were addressed, and knowledge and interest in therapies for leakage were queried.

Activities most likely to cause leakage were skipping, trampoline, jumping jacks, and running/jogging. To decrease leakage, 93.2% voided immediately before exercise, 62.7% reported voiding breaks, and some reported fluid restriction (37.3%). Leakage impacted activity level for 50% of women. Most often, activity intensity was decreased (90.3%) or specific activities avoided (80.7%). Pad use during exercise was common (49.2%). Interest in receiving treatment for urinary incontinence (UI) was high (88.1%) despite a large proportion (35.6%) not knowing of available treatments. Interest was highest for pelvic floor physiotherapy (84.6%), although interest in both pessary and surgical management (63.5% each) was significant.

Women experiencing UI during exercise report high-impact activities as most frequently causing loss. Adaptive behaviors are common. Physically active women are interested in treatment, and the high interest in pelvic physiotherapy presents a unique opportunity to link pelvic exercise with recreational exercise to meet both cardiovascular and continence needs in the physically active patient population.

International urogynecology journal. 2017 Jul 06 [Epub ahead of print]

Erin Brennand, Eider Ruiz-Mirazo, Selphee Tang, Shunaha Kim-Fine, Calgary Women’s Pelvic Health Research Group

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Calgary, 4th floor, North Tower, Foothills Hospital. 1403-29 Street NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 2T9, Canada. ., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Calgary, 4th floor, North Tower, Foothills Hospital. 1403-29 Street NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 2T9, Canada.

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