Urinary Incontinence is Common Among Teen Athletes

Urinary Incontinence is Common Among Teen Athletes

Typically, postpartum incontinence or leakage is portrayed as a postpartum issue in cultural narratives. However, the research tells a different story. A study published in 2021 looked at the data from nine different studies that focused on urinary incontinence in female athletes under the age of 19. Approximately 49% of female adolescent athletes experienced urinary incontinence, the study found.

Approximately half of these young athletes participating in sports leak urine. Even worse, 87% of them do not tell their coaches about it.

There could be a reduction in stigma associated with leaking during sports performance if more open conversations were held about the issue.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Teen Athletes

Stress urinary incontinence, the leaking that occurs with exertion, can happen regardless of age. A weak pelvic floor is most often responsible for the incontinence that athletes experience.

A study published in International Urogynecology Journal found that intra-abdominal pressure and its impact on the pelvic floor during physical exertion can lead to stress urinary incontinence in athletes.

In order to stay dry during exercise, your body relies on your pelvic floor muscles to generate tension that helps to hold your urethra closed, keeping urine inside. The pelvic floor is an often overlooked part of your core system, which includes your deep abdominal muscles, your back muscles, and your diaphragm (the muscle we use to breathe).

How to Help Teen Athletes With Urine Leakage

The good news is that urinary incontinence can be resolved. The trick is getting teens to open up about the problem, so start the conversation and work on building solutions with them.

The Bottom Line

Urinary leakage can be embarrassing and scary for teens. Despite how frequently it occurs, it can feel isolating, particularly when young people think they need to change their sports participation to stay dry. Opening up a conversation, normalizing their experience, supporting their athletic endeavors through full body strength building, and engaging the help of a pro can all help empower athletes to find a path forward.