Prevalence of urinary incontinence in female athletes: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Int Urogynecol J. 2018 Dec;29(12):1717-1725. doi: 10.1007/s00192-018-3651-1. Epub 2018 Apr 13.


Urinary incontinence (UI) is any involuntary loss of urine. In female athletes, physical exercise may be a risk factor for UI because of increased intra-abdominal pressure generated during high-impact exercises, which overloads the pelvic organs, predisposing them to UI. This is a systematic review of the prevalence of UI in female athletes in different sports. A search for articles was carried out in the PEDro, Scopus, Cinahl, PubMed, LILACS, SciELO, Science Direct, Web of Science, Embase, and Cochrane databases as well as a manual search of the references of studies already published on the subject with the keywords "athlete," "urinary incontinence," and "women" in Portuguese and English. Only articles published from 2000 to 2016 were included. Observational studies assessing the prevalence of UI in female athletes were selected. Methodological quality was assessed using the Downs and Black scale, and the data collected from the studies were analyzed through meta-analysis. Eight studies met the eligibility criteria. Meta-analysis showed a 36% prevalence of UI in female athletes in different sports, and compared with sedentary women, the athletes had a 177% higher risk of presenting with UI. There is a higher prevalence of UI in female athletes compared with sedentary women. There have been reports of UI in different sports.

Keywords: Athlete; Urinary incontinence; Women.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology*