Lately I’m seeing more female athletes popping up in the clinic with pelvic floor dysfunction. From postpartum runners to nulliparous gymnasts and Crossfit athletes, more and more women are experiencing pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence during their athletic endeavors.
A 2016 study by Ameida et al. examined urinary incontinence in female athletes who participate in high impact sports. 67 athletes were shown to be at high risk for UI, uncontrolled flatus, and sexual dysfunction compared to a control population of 96 non-athletes. The authors concluded that women involved in long-term high-impact and strengthening sports should be educated in the possible ramifications that these activities can have on pelvic floor function and offered preventive PFD strategies. 1
Education and awareness is key with this population, as they tend to ignore bodily discomfort and focus on their goals. Their body is an instrument and if the symptom is not pain they are apt to ignore it.
I have an educational video discussing the role of high impact sports on pelvic floor dysfunction for patients below, which can be used as a resource for educating patients.
Amanda Olson is a certified pelvic floor physical therapist, writer, and consultant.