Less than two in ten women do pelvic floor exercises daily despite incontinence affecting one in three.

They’re easy, free and completely discreet, yet most women of all ages neglect the most effective method of preventing, treating, managing and even curing incontinence.

According to a survey of more than 15,000 Australian women, less than two out of ten (17.6%) do their pelvic floor exercises daily,1 despite incontinence affecting one in three women who have never had a baby.

And while incontinence can certainly affect men, 80 per cent of those reporting living with incontinence are women.

In the lead up to Women’s Health Week from Monday 5 to Sunday 11 September, 2022, the Continence Foundation of Australia wants to remind women of all ages there is much they can do to reduce their risk of incontinence.

And that doesn’t just mean older women or mothers.

A 2018 Australian study found that one in three netballers experience incontinence[i] and many women may stop exercising after giving birth due to incontinence.

Specialist Women’s, Men’s & Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Shan Morrison, says:

“I see a lot of women who have reduced their engagement in exercise and other enjoyable activities and have withdrawn from life physically, emotionally, socially, and sexually.”

The CEO of the Continence Foundation of Australia, Rowan Cockerell says:

Incontinence is preventable and treatable in the majority of cases. The key to preventing or better managing incontinence comes down to protecting and strengthening the pelvic floor and adopting a few healthy lifestyle habits.”

Apart from pregnancy and childbirth, there are several risk factors for developing incontinence. These include age, being overweight, smoking, menopause, conditions such as diabetes and following bladder and/or pelvic injury and surgery.

Leaking while sneezing, coughing or exercising can hold young women back but can also be easily treated.  The Go Against the Flow website is specially designed for young women to learn more – www.goagainsttheflow.org.au

Mrs Cockerell, said pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere, any time.

“You can do them on the bus, at your desk, while you’re standing in line for a coffee, and nobody will even know you’re doing them.”

And the exercises don’t just help with continence. They can also improve sexual function.

Information on how to do pelvic floor exercises correctly can be found on the Pelvic Floor First website at pelvicfloorfirst.org.au.

Mrs Cockerell said.

“The other important thing to remember, is that there is help available. We have a national continence help line staffed by nurse continence specialists, as well as specific sections on our website with simple instructions on how to perform pelvic floor exercises, and links to resources designed with younger women in mind.”

The Continence Foundation was established to promote bladder and bowel control health, and to reduce the stigma and restrictions of all aspects of incontinence across the lifespan.

Mrs Cockerell said:

“Many people are embarrassed about any incontinence issues. We know that it can lead to some people limiting their social and sex lives and then we start to see it having an impact on their mental health. People think it’s just a normal part of ageing, but it absolutely isn’t, and nobody should feel they just have to put up with it.


And given it’s such a common issue, there really should be no stigma attached to it. Our resources and experts all take a very commonsense and practical approach to helping people. We offer a completely safe space for people to discuss and seek help for this problem.”

Visit continence.org.au for information, including videos, on how to do pelvic floor exercises, as well options for further help and treatment.

Call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.

By the numbers

  • 80 per cent of those living with incontinence are women
  • One in three women who have never had a baby live with incontinence
  • Over half of women living in the community with urinary incontinence are aged under 50 years
  • One in three netballers experience incontinence
  • 10% of young women aged 15 to 24 experience incontinence

About the Continence Foundation of Australia

The Continence Foundation of Australia is a not-for-profit organisation and the national peak body promoting bladder and bowel control health, incontinence prevention, management, education, awareness, information and advocacy.

With representation in each state and territory, the Foundation provides information, support and resources for individuals, carers and professionals.


About incontinence

  • Over five million Australians are affected by incontinence
  • The majority of people affected by incontinence can be treated, better managed or even cured
  • In 2010, the total economic cost of incontinence was estimated to be $66.7 billion and rising
  • People should SEEK HELP:
  • Ask your GP
  • Call the National Continence Helpline FREE 1800 33 00 66
  • Visit continence.org.au