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Published online: 2024-05-06

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Influence of pregnancy and mode of delivery on pelvic floor function: a review of literature

Justyna Zarzecka1, Monika Pycek1, Katarzyna Pietrzykowska-Szczubełek1, Ewa Barcz1, Andrzej Pomian1

Abstract

Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs), such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence (UI), severely affect women's quality of life. Among these, stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is the most common, impacting a significant proportion of women. In the US, the lifetime risk of undergoing surgery for UI or POP stands at 20%. Pregnancy-related factors, notably delivery method and UI occurrence during pregnancy, have a potent correlation with PFD onset. The pathophysiology of PFDs during pregnancy is complex, with factors like increased intra-abdominal pressure, changes in bladder neck mobility, and shifts in pelvic floor muscle strength and collagen metabolism playing pivotal roles. PFD risk factors span across pregnancy, labor, and the postnatal phase and include UI or fecal incontinence (FI) during pregnancy, advanced maternal age, elevated BMI, multiple births, instrumental and spontaneous vaginal deliveries, and newborns weighing over 4000 grams. Conversely, Cesarean deliveries are linked with a reduced long-term risk of UI and POP compared to vaginal births. Current prognostic models can predict the likelihood of PFD development based on variables such as delivery method, number of births, and familial history. Preventive measures encompass lifestyle changes like caffeine reduction and weight management, alongside pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) during pregnancy. Thus, expectant mothers are advised to participate in physical activities, prominently including PFMT.

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