top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrad Cunningham


As I’m sure you were all aware, last week was world incontinence week (!), so last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a seminar at a Physio’s in Prahran who were presenting on the topic of pelvic incontinence. So what made me attend?

  1. I often get told within boot camps by people that they can’t/won’t jump in fear of leakage.

  2. I often see people dashing out before/in-between/after sessions, sometimes multiple times.

  3. Honestly, I didn’t really understand it that much, so wanted to get a bit more of a handle on what’s going on and, you know, learn something!

So naturally, I sat myself down, got a wee (no pun intended) round of applause in the introductions for being the only man there, and got my learning on. And hear is, in a nutshell what they said:

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is a term that describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (fecal or bowel incontinence).

There are also different types of incontinence to be found which are are as follows:

  • Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder, for example, during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects. It’s the most common type of bladder control problem in younger and middle-age women. It may begin around the time of menopause.

  • Urge incontinence happens when people have a sudden need to urinate and aren’t able to hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet. It may be a problem for people who have diabetes ,Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

  • Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra. Diabetes and spinal cord injury can also cause this type of incontinence.

  • Functional incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.

Who does it affect?

And this where things got interesting. Most of us associate incontinence with people who are in the older age group, or women who have recently had a child. However, studies show that some younger women can be affected by this. A study carried out by a person called Thyssen looked at a range of females with a mean age of 23 who carried out either elite sports or dancing.

Thyssen discovered the following:

A total of 291 women with a mean age of 22.8 years completed the questionnaire, providing a response rate of 73.9%.

Overall, 151 women (51.9%) had experienced urine loss, 125 (43%) while participating in their sport and 123 (42%) during daily life.

The proportion of urinary leakage in the different sports was:

  • Gymnastics 56%

  • Ballet 43%

  • Aerobics 40%

  • Badminton 31%

  • Volleyball 30%

  • Athletics 25%

  • Handball 21%

  • Basketball 17%

During sport 44% had experienced leakage a few times, 46.4% now and then, and 9.6% frequently.During daily life the figures were: 61.7% a few times, 37.4% now and then, and 0.8% frequently. Of those who leaked during sport, 95.2% experienced urine loss while training versus only 51.2% during competition (P<0.001).

The activity most likely to provoke leakage was jumping. Sixty per cent (91/151) occasionally wore pads or panty shields because of urine loss. Urinary leakage is common among elite athletes and dancers, particularly during training, but also during daily life activities.

As already alluded to, this is not just not just restricted to females, men too suffer for this condition, and though it’s mainly related to the condition of the prostate gland, there are other explanations for its occurrence too, such as disease, injury and nerve damage.

Ok, so this is starting to ring a few bells - What should I do?

This first thing you want to do is seek help, consult your physician on whether or not they think there is an issue, as they should be in a great position to provide support. If not, there are any number of websites and helplines out there that may help you to make a judgement on whether or not you may suffer from it.

Here are a couple of links that you may find useful:

You can also get a head start in your management by considering these options:

  • Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises*) work the muscles that you use to stop urinating. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer.

  • Biofeedback uses sensors to make you aware of signals from your body. This may help you regain control over the muscles in your bladder and urethra. Biofeedback can be helpful when learning pelvic muscle exercises.

  • Timed voiding may help you control your bladder. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule, for example, every hour. You can slowly extend the time between bathroom trips. When timed voiding is combined with biofeedback and pelvic muscle exercises, you may find it easier to control urge and overflow incontinence.

  • Lifestyle changes may help with incontinence. You may benefit from: losing weight, quitting smoking, saying “no” to alcohol, drinking less caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and many sodas), preventing constipation, and avoiding lifting heavy objects.

As you can imagine this is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to information and guidance that is out there.

Hopefully for those that may be need it, it may be useful. Thanks.

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page