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Pelvic floor muscle strength and body self-perception among Brazilian pregnant women

Abstract

Objectives

To examine the relationship between pelvic floor muscle strength and body self-perception variables in pregnant women; and, more specifically, to determine the influence of the number of pregnancies (primigravidas vs multigravidas) on the strength of contraction of the pelvic floor muscles and on the body self-perception of pregnant women.

Design

Comparative cross-sectional research.

Setting

Public health centres from Florianópolis, Brazil.

Participants

Thirty-five pregnant women (18 primigravidas, 17 multigravidas) with a mean age of 25.5 (standard deviation 5.7) years.

Main outcome measures

Pelvic floor strength measured through manual palpation, and body self-perception using the Questionnaire of Corporeality and Human Sexuality.

Results

Pelvic floor muscle strength was positively correlated with schooling [rho (ρ)=0.496] and body self-perception variables: finding the body beautiful (ρ=0.476), finding the body sexy (ρ=0.520), feeling that others find them sexy (ρ=0.364), finding the body proportional (ρ=0.412), touching the body generally (ρ=0.554) and recognising the smell of the body (ρ=0.454). Primigravidas found their bodies more beautiful and were more satisfied with their bodies. On a scale of 0 to 6, multigravid participants expressed a greater wish than primigravid participants to be thinner (median difference 2, 95% confidence interval 0–3, P=0.03). Pelvic floor strength did not differ between groups.

Conclusions

The results suggest a relationship between pelvic floor muscle strength and body self-perception. Professionals involved in women's health may have a role in helping their patients to understand their bodies.

Cite this article

Pelvic floor muscle strength and body self-perception among Brazilian pregnant womenCinara Sacomori, Fernando Luiz Cardoso, Cristiane VanderlindePhysiotherapy 1 December 2010 (volume 96 issue 4 Pages 337-343 DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2010.02.003)

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