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J Sci Med Sport. 2019 Feb;22(2):140-144. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.07.008. Epub 2018 Jul 20.

Urinary incontinence and disordered eating in female elite athletes.

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Faculty of Sports, University of Porto, Portugal; Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Portugal. Electronic address:
EPIUnit - Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Portugal.
Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Portugal; Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal.
Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Department of Sports Medicine, Norway; Akershus University Hospital, Norway.



To evaluate the association between urinary incontinence and disordered eating, in elite female athletes.


This cross-sectional study included 744 young and healthy Portuguese women: 372 elite athletes and 372 age-matched non-athletes, mean age 21±5.3years.


Data regarding clinical, demographic, and sport practice characteristics were collected by questionnaire. The International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence-Short Form was applied to identify urinary incontinence. The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire was applied to identify disordered eating. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were used to estimate the association between UI and disordered eating.


The prevalence of urinary incontinence in athletes and non-athletes was 29.3% and 13.4%, p<0.001, respectively. No difference in prevalence of disordered eating was found between athletes (17.7%) and non-athletes (20.2%), p=0.435. Urinary incontinence was associated with disordered eating only in the athletes. After adjustment for age, type of sport, smoking and alcohol intake, athletes with disordered eating presented increased odds of urinary incontinence of any type over athletes without disordered eating (OR=3.09; 95% CI: 1.74-5.50).


Athletes with disordered eating were three times more likely to present urinary incontinence than women without disordered eating. There is a need for further studies to elaborate on mechanisms for this association.


Eating behaviour; Pelvic floor dysfunction; Prevalence; Sports practice; Stress urinary incontinence

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