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Strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles in continent women: An observational study

Abstract

Objectives

To describe the maximal strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles in a cohort of women with no history of incontinence; and to determine the effect of age, parity, hormonal status, previous gynaecological surgery and regular performance of pelvic floor muscle exercises on the strength and endurance of these muscles.

Design

Preliminary cross-sectional observational study.

Setting

Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia.

Participants

Twenty-eight women aged 19 to 58 years, 16 of whom were under 40 years of age. Participants were excluded if they had a history of incontinence or were currently menstruating.

Primary outcome measures

Pelvic floor muscle strength assessed using a perineometer, and pelvic floor muscle endurance above 60% of maximal voluntary contraction.

Secondary outcome measures

The effect of age, parity, hormonal status, previous gynaecological surgery and regular performance of pelvic floor muscle exercises on the strength and endurance of these muscles.

Results

Maximum strength of the pelvic floor muscles was not correlated with endurance (r=0.21, P=0.290) or age (r=−0.31, P=0.107); however, it was influenced by parity (r=−0.44, P=0.020). Endurance was significantly and positively correlated with age (r=0.38, P=0.048).

Conclusions

This study provides preliminary data that age and parity may be important factors in pelvic floor muscle performance in women who are continent. A larger study that considers the variability associated with these variables will provide useful guidelines for prescription of exercise.

Cite this article

Strength and endurance of the pelvic floor muscles in continent women: An observational study
Emma Quartly, Taryn Hallam, Sharon Kilbreath, Kathryn Refshauge
Physiotherapy 1 December 2010 (volume 96 issue 4 Pages 311-316 DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2010.02.008)

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