Too wet to exercise? Leaking urine as a barrier to physical activity in women

Wendy J. Brown*, Yvette D. Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Leaking urine is frequently mentioned (anecdotally) by women as a barrier to physical activity. The aim of this paper was to use results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) to explore the prevalence of leaking urine in Australian women, and to ascertain whether leaking urine might be a barrier to participation for women. More than 41,000 women participated in the baseline surveys of the ALSWH in 1996. More than one third of the mid-age (45-50 years) and older (70-75) women and 13% of the young women (18-23) reported leaking urine. There was a cross-sectional association between leaking urine and physical activity, such that women with more frequent urinary leakage were also more likely to report low levels of physical activity. More than one thousand of those who reported leaking urine at baseline participated in a follow-up study in 1999. Of these, more than 40% of the mid-age women (who were aged 48-53 in 1999), and one in seven of the younger (21-26 years) and older (73-79 years) women reported leaking urine during sport or exercise. More than one third of the mid-age women and more than one quarter of the older women, but only 7% of the younger women said they avoided sporting activities because of leaking urine. The data are highly suggestive that leaking urine may be a barrier to physical activity, especially among mid-age women. As current estimates suggest that fewer than half of all Australian women are adequately active for health benefit, health professionals could be more proactive in raising this issue with women and offering help through non-invasive strategies such as pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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