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Prevalence of urinary incontinence in women powerlifters: a pilot study


Introduction and hypothesis

Increased intra-abdominal pressure is associated with urinary incontinence (UI) as is increasing age, obesity, and participating in sport at an elite level. We aimed to determine the prevalence of UI in competitive women powerlifters and establish if commonly cited risk factors affect the incidence of UI.


The authors developed a 17-item questionnaire to investigate the prevalence of UI and the relationship of UI with age, body mass, resistance training experience, and competition grade in competitive women powerlifters. The questionnaire was distributed through three major powerlifting federations in Australia for 16 months. The data of 134 competitive women powerlifters were collected anonymously using Qualtrics, and were analysed using multivariate analysis.


In combination, the age of lifters, resistance training experience, body weight categories, and competition grade accounted for a significant 28% of the variability in the Incontinence Severity Index (ISI) (p < 0.01). However, the ISI was not significantly different among age groups, body weight categories, or competition grade. Approximately, 41% of women powerlifters had experienced UI at some stage in life, and 37% of women powerlifters currently experienced UI during training, competition, or maximum effort lifts. However, the rate of UI experienced during daily life activities was approximately 11%.


This study showed that competitive women powerlifters experience a higher rate of UI during lifting-related activities than in daily life and that the rate of UI correlates positively with age, body weight categories, resistance training experience, and competition grade.

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Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lolita Wikander.

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Conflicts of interest

LW is the Secretary of a not-for-profit organisation, Darwin Powersports Incorporated. Darwin Powersports Incorporated promotes strength sports and conducts local powerlifting and strongman competitions. DC and DG declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Female powerlifters and continence questionnaire.

1. Please nominate your age range.

2. Which of the following powerlifting federations do you currently belong to? CAPO, GPC, PA or others.

3. How long have you participated in any type of strength-/weight-based training?

4. How long have you been powerlifting?

5. What body weight do you usually compete at?

6. What is your best ever total in kilogrammes?

7. Approximately what is your current total in kilogrammes?

8. Do you or have you ever suffered from urinary incontinence?

9. Did you suffer from any form of urinary incontinence before powerlifting?

10. Have your symptoms improved or gotten worse as your lifting age has increased?

11. Do you currently suffer from urinary incontinence outside of training?

12. Do you currently suffer from urinary incontinence during training?

13. Do you currently suffer from urinary incontinence when competing?

14. Do you currently suffer from urinary incontinence during a maximum-effort lift?

15. How often do you experience urine leakage? Never = 0; less than once a month = 1; a few times a month = 2; a few times a week = 3; every day and/or night = 4.

16. How much urine do you lose each time? None = 0; drops = 1; small splashes = 2; more = 3.

17. Are there any other comments you would like to make?

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Wikander, L., Cross, D. & Gahreman, D.E. Prevalence of urinary incontinence in women powerlifters: a pilot study. Int Urogynecol J 30, 2031–2039 (2019).

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  • BMI
  • Incontinence severity index
  • Intra-abdominal pressure
  • Pelvic floor
  • Resistance training
  • Stress urinary incontinence