Evaluation of pelvic floor muscle function in a random group of adult women in Austria
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Despite an increasing clinical interest in female pelvic floor function, there is a lack of data with respect to the knowledge of average adult women about the physiological role of the pelvic floor and their ability to contract pelvic floor muscles (PFM) voluntarily. It was the aim of our study to evaluate the percentage of PFM dysfunction in adult women and the impact of risk factors, such as age, body mass index (BMI), number of children delivered, and the influence of previous PFM training. A total of 343 Austrian adult women (mean age, 41.2 ± 14.6 years; range, 18–79 years), selected at random, were examined to test their ability to contract the PFM. The examination was carried out by three independent gynecologists during the course of a routine gynecological visit. The ability to contract the PFM voluntarily or involuntarily was assessed by digital intravaginal palpation with the patients in a supine position. The muscle strength was graded according to the Modified Oxford Grading Scale by Laycock. A high percentage (44.9%) of the women was not able to voluntarily perform a normal PFM contraction. In only 26.5%, an involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor was present before an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. The inability to contract the PFM did not correlate with women’s age but revealed a weak relationship with the number of childbirths and the patient’s BMI. A significant correlation was found between the Oxford Grading Scale rating and the patient’s report about previous PFM training.