Does pelvic floor muscle training improve female sexual function? A systematic review

Int Urogynecol J. 2015 Dec;26(12):1735-50. doi: 10.1007/s00192-015-2749-y. Epub 2015 Jun 14.


Introduction and hypothesis: We performed a review of the literature reporting on the effects of pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) on female sexual function (SF).

Methods: Pubmed (from 1946 to December 2014), Ovid Medline (from 1946 to December 2014), CINAHL (from 1937 to December 2014), PsycINFO (from 1805 to December 2014), Scopus and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched by two independent reviewers. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the impact of PFMT on women's SF published in English were included. Methodological quality was scored using the PEDro scale. Data were analysed qualitatively and interpreted.

Results: A total of 1341 women were included in the eight RCTs covered by this review. The studies were published between 1997 and 2014. Methodological scores were between 4 and 7. The sample included derived from heterogeneous populations of women. In only one study was SF the primary outcome measure. Pelvic floor dysfunction was an inclusion criterion in the majority of studies. Most studies reported a significant improvement in SF score after PFMT between control and intervention groups.

Conclusions: Although most studies indicated an improvement of at least one sexual variable in women with pelvic floor dysfunction, and one study demonstrated an improvement in SF in postpartum women selected independently of their continence status, the results need to be interpreted with caution. High-quality RCTs specifically designed to investigate the impact of PFMT on women's SF are required.

Keywords: Female; Pelvic floor muscle training; Physiotherapy; Sexual function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Floor*
  • Sexual Behavior*