Is pelvic floor muscle training effective when taught in a general fitness class in pregnancy? A randomised controlled trial

Physiotherapy. 2011 Sep;97(3):190-5. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Feb 4.


Objectives: Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) following vaginal assessment of correct contraction can prevent and treat urinary incontinence in the peripartum period. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of PFMT instructed in a general fitness class for pregnant women.

Design: Single-blind randomised controlled trial.

Setting: University-conducted primary care study.

Participants: One hundred and five sedentary primiparous women randomised to a general fitness class including PFMT (n=52) or a control group (n=53). Ten and 11 women were lost to follow-up in the exercise and control groups, respectively.

Intervention: Twelve weeks of training comprising twice-weekly 1-hour fitness classes including three sets of eight to 12 maximal pelvic floor muscle contractions. The control group received usual care.

Outcome measure: Number of women reporting urinary, flatus or anal incontinence.

Results: No significant differences were found in the number of women reporting urinary, flatus or anal incontinence between the exercise group and the control group during pregnancy or at 6 weeks post partum.

Conclusions: No effect of PFMT was found when the exercises were taught in a general fitness class for pregnant women without individual instruction of correct PFM contraction. Low adherence and the small sample size may have contributed to the negative results. Further studies are warranted to assess the effect of population-based PFMT in the prevention of urinary and fecal incontinence.

Trial registration: NCT00617149.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology
  • Fecal Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Flatulence / etiology
  • Flatulence / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders / complications
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders / physiopathology
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders / therapy*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Treatment Failure
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology

Associated data