Prevalence of pelvic floor disorders in the female population and the impact of age, mode of delivery, and parity

Dis Colon Rectum. 2011 Jan;54(1):85-94. doi: 10.1007/DCR.0b013e3181fd2356.


Purpose: Dysfunction of pelvic floor may cause many different symptoms, such as urinary and anal incontinence, obstructed defecation and constipation. No previous studies have examined all of these symptoms together. The purposes of the present study were to determine prevalence of pelvic floor disorders among the female population and to evaluate the impact of age, parity, and mode of delivery on these disorders.

Methods: The study was performed on a general population of Turkish women. Women were excluded who were pregnant, who were within 6 months postpartum, who had cognitive disorders or neurological diseases, and who had a history of previous gastrointestinal, anorectal, or gynecological surgery. A questionnaire about urinary incontinence, anal incontinence, constipation, and obstructed defecation along with an extensive obstetric history was administered to 4002 women in face-to-face interviews. All symptoms were defined according to the standard terminology.

Results: The median age of the participants was 41 years (range, 15-86). Of the women interviewed, 1067 had no deliveries, 434 women delivered by cesarean only, and 2501 women had one or more vaginal deliveries. Five hundred thirty women had delivered one child, 1880 women had delivered 2 to 3 children, and 582 women had delivered ≥4 children. Overall, 67.5% of women experienced pelvic floor dysfunction of at least one major type. The prevalence of each pelvic floor disorder evaluated in this study was as follows: anal incontinence, 19.8%; urinary incontinence, 50.7%; constipation, 33.2%; and obstructed defecation, 26.8%. Analysis of risk factors demonstrated that age was the major factor associated with the development of pelvic floor dysfunction. Vaginal delivery and higher parity increased the risk of both urinary and defecatory symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Conclusion: The study data demonstrate that pelvic floor dysfunction is a common problem among women and it is strongly linked to childbirth and aging.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Constipation / epidemiology
  • Constipation / etiology*
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects*
  • Fecal Incontinence / epidemiology
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology*
  • Fecal Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / etiology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / physiopathology
  • Parity
  • Pelvic Floor / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology