Evaluation of female pelvic-floor muscle function and strength

Phys Ther. 2005 Mar;85(3):269-82.


Evaluation of pelvic-floor muscle (PFM) function and strength is necessary (1) to be able to teach and give feedback regarding a woman's ability to contract the PFM and (2) to document changes in PFM function and strength throughout intervention. The aims of this article are to give an overview of methods to assess PFM function and strength and to discuss the responsiveness, reliability, and validity of data obtained with the methods available for clinical practice and research today. Palpation, visual observation, electromyography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measure different aspects of PFM function. Vaginal palpation is standard when assessing the ability to contract the PFM. However, ultrasound and MRI seem to be more objective measurements of the lifting aspect of the PFM. Dynamometers can measure force directly and may yield more valid measurements of PFM strength than pressure transducers. Further research is needed to establish reliability and validity scores for imaging techniques. Imaging techniques may become important clinical tools in future physical therapist practice and research to measure both pathophysiology and impairment of PFM dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Feedback
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Palpation / instrumentation
  • Pelvic Floor / diagnostic imaging
  • Pelvic Floor / physiopathology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / instrumentation*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy
  • Women's Health