Pre-kids, my assumption about urinary control issues was that it was limited to the very young and the very elderly. After the kids came, I started experiencing stress urinary incontinence and blamed vaginal labour and delivery. While childbirth is certainly a cause, SUI isn’t limited to the very young, the very old, or those who have given birth. In fact, stress urinary incontinence affects a broad spectrum of ages and fitness levels, including elite athletes.
A 2002 study in the United States surveyed 291 elite female athletes in a range of sports, and found that 151 of them reported leakage of some kind during participation in their sport or during day-to-day activities. Of those 151 with leakage issues, only 5 discussed it with their medical provider and 6 went on to learn more about pelvic health treatment.
The good news? If you’re suffering from SUI, you’re among the elite. The bad news? Everyone – the young, the post-partum, the elderly, the elite athletes – are largely dealing with the issue in silence. Because we don’t talk about SUI, we feel alone in the struggle. But this is an important woman’s health issue that needs to be heard and can be addressed. Talking about it is a great start.