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Incontinence Frequency High Among Female Athletes

Urinary incontinence adversely affects recreational sports participation

MONDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Urinary stress incontinence is common among menstruating, recreational athletes and may lead to discontinuation or alteration of an enjoyed activity, according to the results of a study published online Sept. 26 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Stefano Salvatore, M.D., of the University of Insubria in Varese, Italy, and colleagues examined the prevalence of urinary stress incontinence in 679 menstruating recreational athletes and determined which specific sports had stronger associations with urinary incontinence and what the risk factors are. Participants completed a questionnaire that included demographics and specific questions about urinary incontinence and its effect on the individual.

Overall, 14.9 percent of women reported urinary incontinence, with 31.7 percent of these women complaining of urinary incontinence solely during sports activity, 47.5 percent only during daily activities and 20.8 percent in both daily and sporting activities, the researchers report. Increasing body mass index and parity appreciably increased risk of urinary incontinence, the investigators found. Basketball (16.6 percent), athletics (15 percent) and tennis or squash (11 percent) were the three most common sports associated with urinary incontinence. A significant number of women gave up (10.4 percent) or limited involvement (20 percent) in their favorite sport because of urinary stress incontinence, the report indicates.

"Urinary incontinence affects a significant proportion of women of all ages, with great impact in many areas of life," the authors conclude. "In women, physical activity can represent an important part of daily life, which can be negatively limited by the complaint of urinary incontinence (even if mild)."

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