As an athlete, girls have been told it’s ok if they leak. Is this true?

As an athlete, girls have been told it’s ok if they leak. Is this true?

Performing impact sports such as running or gymnastics can fatigue the pelvic floor muscles that hold the pelvis together and support the pelvic organs. Pelvic floor muscles must be strengthened and work together with the abdominals and deep back muscles.

Can holding your breath contribute to leaking?

Yes. Increasing intra-abdominal pressure will compress the bladder.

Image result for valsalva hold crossfit

Why do women leak more frequently than men?

Women have much shorter urethra than men. The urethra must be compressed quickly (like kinking a garden hose) to close off the tube so urine is not leaked.

How long should pelvic exercises be practiced? 

Pelvic floor exercises are most effective when done for three months. Exercises should be continued throughout life as activities of daily living are performed.

Why does bladder leakage need to be treated?

Female incontinence is embarrassing and can cause emotional distress, which can result in decreased physical activity and social function. The cost of pads is expensive. Women can develop irritation in the region and urinary tract infections.

Image result for sad lady


Is it correct to think that first step to reducing leaking is to cut back on liquids?

No. Decreasing liquids is not a good idea because women can become dehydrated, with an increase in uric acid which can contribute to infection.

Is a side effect of having a baby incontinence? 

Possibly. Pelvic floor muscles are often strained during pregnancy and vaginal birth. Decreased estrogen levels can also reduce the connective tissue thickness reducing the compressive forces on the urethra and the lift of the bladder.

Image result for mom exercising with baby

What types of exercise do pelvic floor physical therapists do?

Exercises include:

  • Training the transverse abdominals, training deep back extensors beside the spine, and pelvic floor muscle to work together when performing daily life tasks
  • Coordinated breathing
  • Bladder retraining to expand the bladder’s capacity to hold urine
  • Urge suppression to reduce leaks. Depending on the individualized exercise program tailored for each woman, the sessions are typically 8 visits of 45 minutes over a 6-8 week period
  • Timed voids, which is slowly increasing time intervals between going to the bathroom

What other treatments are available?

  • Electrical stimulation (often covered by insurance)
  • Surgical procedures
  • Medication (even though the medication action can be helpful, sometimes side effects like dry mouth can be bothersome)

Why do women feel a strong urge to urinate or even leak when she sees a toilet, or walks into the door of her home?

A person can develop a conditioned response associating the toilet with the need to urinate.


Published by Dr. Cora T Huitt

Cora T. Huitt, PT, DPT, BCB-PMD ~Thirty seven years of clinical practice, specializing in women's health for fifteen years. ~BS Degree in Allied Health Professions, Ohio State University, '72. ~Master of Arts in College Teaching (MACT) focus in Physical Therapy & Therapeutic Exercise, University of North Carolina, '76. ~ Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Alabama State University, 2010 ~Attended multiple courses offered in Women's Health Physical Therapy, including Pelvic 1, 2, 3 Course in Women's Health Section APTA. ~Member of VPTA and APTA, Women's Health Section. ~BCIA-PMDB Biofeedback- Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction Biofeedback. ~Certified Pilates instructor, ProHealth. ~Affiliate member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. ~Member of International Continence Society. ~Member of National Vulvodynia Association. ~Adjunct Clinical Faculty for student affiliation at multiple universities. ~Director of APTA Women's Health Residency since 2007, credentialed in 2008. (only other residency at Duke Unviersity)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: