Can postpartum pelvic floor muscle training reduce urinary and anal incontinence? An assessor-blinded randomized controlled trial

Review written by Robin Kerr info

Key Points

  1. Pelvic floor muscle exercise, supervised by a pelvic floor therapist weekly over 12 sessions, is effective in reducing urinary incontinence and perceived bother from pelvic floor dysfunction in the short term (6 months).
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Incontinence is a common and significant postnatal complaint which may cause distress and reduce the quality of life in women. Approximately 30% of mothers experience urinary incontinence and 10% anal incontinence. Prolapse, pain and sexual issues are also common bothersome factors caused by birth-related pelvic floor dysfunction in 40-91% of primiparous women (1).

There is level 1A evidence that pelvic floor muscle training is a successful first line treatment for urinary incontinence (2). This Icelandic hospital study was performed to provide more knowledge on the effects of postpartum pelvic floor muscle training on urinary and anal incontinence and related bother.

Approximately 30% of mothers experience urinary incontinence.
It may be time to challenge the status quo and move onto input that allows pelvic floor muscle integration into attainment of autonomous complex motor learning in line with a woman’s desired physical activity.


This study was an assessor-blinded parallel RCT assessing the effects of pelvic floor muscle (PFM) training 1:1 with a physiotherapist on the rate of urinary and anal leakage (primary outcome), as well as bother, muscle strength and endurance (secondary outcomes).

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