health

One in three women pee themselves while playing netball. Here's why.

There are some things you’ll only know if you play netball, along with the approximately half a million other Australians who love the game.

That “here if you need” isn’t an offer to help carry someones groceries. That the position you play says A LOT about your personality. And that it’s entirely possible to pee yourself for seemingly no reason, decades after you said goodbye to nappies.

Thought you were the only one? Think again.

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Image: Getty

New research has found that one in three netball players have experienced urinary incontinence while playing Australia's most popular team sport for women - and it's not just those that have had children, either.

In her paper The prevalence of urinary incontinence in adult netball players in South Australia sponsored by the Continence Foundation of Australia, women's health and continence physiotherapist Naomi Gill found that one third of all players, and half of those who have had children, experience urine leakage during training or a game.

"Netball is a fast-paced high impact sport involving running, jumping and quick directional changes with repeated accelerations and decelerations which can stimulate urinary leakage," she explained.

What Gill found particularly concerning was that despite the large numbers of netballers who had experienced incontinence while playing the sport, only eight per cent had seen or spoken to a health professional about.

"This means that 82 percent of netballers are not seeking assistance from a health professional who can help them manage or cure their condition. This is particularly concerning considering incontinence has been given a reason women stop participating in exercise," she said in a statement.

Instead, 41 per cent of players chose to use urinary pads while 31 per cent undertook pelvic floor exercises. 14 per cent said they simply restricted their participation in the sport as a result.

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Image: Getty
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While products like these can help manage incontinence, ignoring the problem could have serious health consequences in the future.

"Incontinence won’t get better on its own. Seeking advice from a health professional is the first step to recovery and most cases can be better managed or even cured. Unfortunately, research shows the majority do not seek help,” Gill said.

Ultimately, the report hopes to break the stigma of incontinence and prove there is no shame in seeking help.

Image: Getty

"Incontinence is common, but not normal. By taking action today, many of the five million people living with incontinence can score many health goals and enjoy more confidence on and off the court. We want to help women stay dry while playing the sport they love and provide women with information on how to safely return to high impact sport after childbirth," she said.

"This is an important study that has already made a great contribution to the lives of women netballers living with incontinence, and we hope it will encourage others with the condition to shake the stigma and seek help that will enable them to live confident, continent lives,” Continence Foundation of Australia CEO, Rowan Cockerell added.

People with bladder or bowel health concerns can freecall the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for a confidential conversation with a continence nurse or visit continence.org.au

Listen: Mia Freedman sits down with one of our country's most high profile health and fitness personalities.

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