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n International SportMed Journal - Does pelvic muscle training decrease postpartum stress incontinence? : review article
Objective: Urinary incontinence is a chronic health complaint, which severely reduces quality of life. Many sufferers report effects on their social, domestic, physical, occupational and leisure activities. Female urinary incontinence is often considered a problem primarily occurring during pregnancy and after childbirth. The aim of this article is to review the literature addressing pelvic floor muscle training in the prevention and treatment of postpartum urinary incontinence.
Data sources: Only full publications of prospective controlled studies were included. Urinary incontinence was the primary outcome variable, and language of publication was English. Relevant studies were identified by computerised searches in MEDLINE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register.
Study selection : Three randomised controlled trials assessing the effect of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy in the prevention and treatment of postpartum urinary incontinence were found. Two studies with a matched controlled design and five randomised controlled trials assessing the effect of postpartum pelvic floor muscle training were identified.
Data extraction: In the studies included, pelvic floor muscle training was the main intervention.
Data synthesis: Different training protocols have been used and the reported effect on urinary incontinence differs. It appears that studies with high-intensity pelvic floor muscle training and close follow-up show the best results.
Conclusions: This review suggests that pregnant and postpartum women should be encouraged to perform pelvic floor muscle training to prevent and / or treat urinary incontinence. Health services for women during pregnancy and after delivery should be increased, and strategies to prevent and treat urinary incontinence need to be implemented. Another important issue is that pelvic floor muscle training should be incorporated in sports and exercise groups in general, to reach women of all levels of physical fitness.
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