Original Article

International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 178-186

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Standardization of Terminology for Researchers in Female Pelvic Floor Disorders

  • A. M. WeberAffiliated withCenter for Population Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD
  • , P. AbramsAffiliated withBristol Urological Institute, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  • , L. BrubakerAffiliated withRush Medical College, Chicago, IL
  • , G. CundiffAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • , G. DavisAffiliated withMadigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA
  • , R. R. DmochowskiAffiliated withUniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
  • , J. FischerAffiliated withWright Patterson Air Force Base 74th Medical Group, OH
  • , T. HullAffiliated withCleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH
  • , I. NygaardAffiliated withUniversity of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
    • , A. C. WeidnerAffiliated withDuke University, Durham, NC, USA


The lack of standardized terminology in pelvic floor disorders (pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence) is a major obstacle to performing and interpreting research. The National Institutes of Health convened the Terminology Workshop for Researchers in Female Pelvic Floor Disorders to: (1) agree on standard terms for defining conditions and outcomes; (2) make recommendations for minimum data collection for research; and (3) identify high priority issues for future research. Pelvic organ prolapse was defined by physical examination staging using the International Continence Society system. Stress urinary incontinence was defined by symptoms and testing; ‘cure’ was defined as no stress incontinence symptoms, negative testing, and no new problems due to intervention. Overactive bladder was defined as urinary frequency and urgency, with and without urge incontinence. Detrusor instability was defined by cystometry. For all urinary symptoms, defining ‘improvement’ after intervention was identified as a high priority. For fecal incontinence, more research is needed before recommendations can be made. A standard terminology for research on pelvic floor disorders is presented and areas of high priority for future research are identified.

Key words:Clinical research - Fecal incontinence - Pelvic organ prolapse - Standardization of terminology - Urinary incontinence