A new study from the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) indicates female triathletes may experience loss of bladder control issues. The study results were reported at American Urogynecologic Society scientific conference in Washington, in July 2014.
Based on Colleen Fitzgerald, MD, study investigator and physiatrist, LUHS, “There has been a surge in popularity of high-impact sports such as triathlons, but little has been known until now about the prevalence of pelvic health and certain other issues associated with endurance training and events.”
A total of 311 women were surveyed for this study with a median age of 35-44. All of them were associated with triathlete groups and 255 were actively trained for a triathlon at the time of the study. These endurance exercisers swam 2.4 days, ran 3.7 days, and biked 2.9 days on average every week.
Researchers have suspected for some time the possibility of female triathletes may experience loss of bladder control and other healthy issues. In this study, they found that the survey participants reported a much broader range of issues including pelvic floor disorders, menstrual irregularities, abnormal bone strength and eating disorders.
Of the participants who reported pelvic floor issues, stress-related loss of bladder control had the highest incidence of 37.4%, in which leakage occurs when physical pressure is asserted to the abdominal area, such as running, laughing, or sneezing; 16% had loss of bladder control, in which the leakage occurs when the urge to go comes on so strongly and suddenly that there is no time to make to the bathroom; 28% had loss of bowel control, in which the control over the bowel movement is partially compromised. Johnny Yi, MD, urogynecologist and study investigator cautioned: “Doctors should be aware of how common these conditions are in this group of athletes and treat patients appropriately to avoid long-term health consequences.”
Marathon Runners and Stress-Related Loss of Bladder Control
Loyola University is currently studying the increased risk of stress incontinence among marathon runners. “The added stress on the body that comes with running a marathon can cause urinary stress incontinence problems during the race or down the road,” said Melinda Abernethy, MD, fellow, Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
If you are a heavy exerciser, or used to be one, knowing the increased risk of incontinence associated with certain types of exercises is crucial. You can start taking precautionary measures now to prevent bladder and bowel control problems down the line. Integrate Yoga or Pilate into your exercise routine. Certain postures in Yoga and Pilate can help drastically strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Integrate nutritional support and take vitamin D3 and BetterWOMAN regularly to strengthen your bladder and pelvic floor muscles for years to come.
To your health, be defensive.