Pelvic floor exercises can reduce incontinence in women

September 13, 2001

Conservative management of persistent postnatal urinary and faecal incontinence: randomised controlled trial BMJ Volume 323, pp 593-596

Three months after childbirth, a third of women still experience urinary incontinence, yet simple treatments such as pelvic floor exercises or bladder training are effective in about one in 10 women, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Three months after giving birth, 747 women with persistent urinary incontinence were randomly allocated to two groups. At five, seven and nine months after delivery, nurses taught the treatment group to follow a daily intensive pelvic floor exercise programme with bladder training if necessary. The control group did not receive any visits from research nurses.

A year after delivery, women in the treatment group had significantly less urinary incontinence than those in the control group. Faecal incontinence was also less common. The women in the treatment group were also more likely to be performing pelvic floor exercises.

These findings show that conservative treatment provided by specially trained nurses seems to be effective in reducing both urinary and faecal incontinence in women 12 months after childbirth, say the authors. The benefit for women is also greater among those with more severe initial symptoms. Further trials for faecal incontinence are needed, they conclude.


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