Continence and pelvic floor status in nulliparous women at midterm pregnancy

Int Urogynecol J. 2012 Sep;23(9):1257-63. doi: 10.1007/s00192-012-1716-0. Epub 2012 Mar 17.


Introduction and hypothesis: A Cochrane review recommends antenatal pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) in urinary incontinence (UI) prevention. The aim of the study was to investigate nulliparous pregnant women's knowledge about and practising of PFMT, their pelvic floor muscle (PFM) function, and ability to contract correctly. It was hypothesized that continent women had higher PFM strength and endurance than women with UI.

Methods: Three hundred nulliparous women at gestational week 18-22 were included in a cross-sectional study. Vaginal resting pressure, maximum voluntary contraction, and PFM endurance were measured by manometer. UI was assessed by International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI-SF). Comparisons of PFM function in continent women and women with UI were analyzed using independent-samples t test. Mean differences with 95 % confidence interval (CI) are presented.

Results: Of 300 women, 89 % had heard of PFMT at mid pregnancy, and 35 % performed PFMT once or more a week. After thorough instruction 4 % were unable to contract correctly. Thirty-five percent reported UI, of whom 48 % performed PFMT once or more a week. Continent women had significantly higher PFM strength and endurance when compared with women having UI, with mean differences of 6.6 cmH(2)O (CI 2.3-10.8, p = 0.003), and 41.5 cmH(2)Osec (CI 9.8-73.1, p = 0.010), respectively. No difference was found for vaginal resting pressure (p = 0.054).

Conclusions: Most nulliparous pregnant women knew about PFMT. Thirty-five percent performed PFMT once or more a week. Incontinent nulliparous pregnant women had weaker PFM than their continent counterparts. More emphasis on information regarding PFM function and PFMT is warranted during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Manometry
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Parity
  • Pelvic Floor / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pressure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / prevention & control
  • Vagina / physiology
  • Young Adult