Female teen athletes can be impacted by this condition

Female teen athletes can be impacted by this condition

Urinary incontinence (UI) may be more common than you think. While it’s true this condition impacts older adults, pregnant women and those postpartum, it can also happen to anyone at any age.

In fact, it may be surprising to know that UI impacts teenage athletes. A 2021 study on female athletes under age 19 found a prevalence of UI between 18% to 80% with an average of 49%. The most common type of UI in athletes is called “stress UI” which includes leakage during high-impact activities like running, heavy lifting and jumping.

“During sports and exercise there may be an increase in intra-abdominal pressure which puts stress on your bladder resulting in urine leakage,” says Dr. John Cudecki, a urologist based at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “A weak pelvic floor or lack of coordination of pelvic floor muscles during activity can also cause leakage in athletes.”

When it comes to treatment, it’s important to consult your teens doctor to understand if there are any underlying conditions or urinary tract infections that are the culprit.

“If UI is the issue, physical therapy is an effective treatment option,” adds Dr. Cudecki. “A physical therapist can provide instruction on proper contraction of the pelvic floor muscles and tips on exercises your teen can add to their routine. If therapy doesn’t resolve issues, a urologist can also help determine additional treatment options.”

In addition to the physical effects, UI can sometimes feel isolating or embarrassing for teenagers.

“If you suspect your teen is experiencing UI, it’s key to let them know they are not alone and that there are treatment options available,” says Dr. Cudecki.

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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Michelle Howe