Occurrence rates and predictors of lower urinary tract symptoms and incontinence in female athletes

Urologia. 2010 Apr-May;77(2):139-46.


Introduction and hypothesis: To assess the prevalence of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and incontinence in female athletes and to determine the etiological factors.

Methods: An anonymous self-questionnaire was collected from 623 casual female athletes aged 18 to 56 years, who were involved in 12 different sports. The surveys were distributed by hand to the athletes, during their sports fitness tests, in a sports center. We investigated the relationship between urinary disorders and factors such as age, body mass index (BMI), parity, duration of physical exercise, and type of sport.

Results: The prevalence of LUTS was 54.7%, and 30% for urinary incontinence. Changes in urinary frequency were detected in 91 (14.6%) women. Prevalence of dysuria was 13.3%, urinary straining was present in 173 (27.8%) athletes, whereas urinary urgency had an estimated prevalence of 37.2% with 232 athletes suffering from this disorder. Urgency was very common in volleyball players, as was dysuria among hockey and basketball players, whereas straining mainly affected aerobic participants and cyclists. Long training hours and competitive practices were correlated with the onset of LUTS. High-impact sports were more frequently associated with incontinence, while low-impact sports with LUTS. The sport with the main number of incontinent people was football. Urge incontinence affected a lot of athletes, mainly cyclists and football players. Stress incontinence was more frequent in hockey and volleyball players.

Conclusions: LUTS and incontinence are prevalent in female athletes. In many cases, the disorders were present only during sports activities. In this sample, the presence of urinary disorders did not seem to be a barrier during sports or exercise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dysuria / epidemiology
  • Dysuria / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Reproductive History
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sports* / classification
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology
  • Urination Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Urination Disorders / etiology
  • Urologic Surgical Procedures
  • Young Adult