International Urogynecology Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 131–135 | Cite as

Evaluation of pelvic floor muscle function in a random group of adult women in Austria

  • H Talasz
  • G Himmer-Perschak
  • E Marth
  • J Fischer-Colbrie
  • E Hoefner
  • M Lechleitner
Original Article


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.


Pelvic floor muscle (PFM) function Voluntary and involuntary contraction of pelvic floor muscles (PFM) Digital intravaginal palpation 


  1. 1.
    Messelink B, Benson T, Berghmans, Bo K, Corcos J, Fowler C, Laycock J, Huat-Chye Lim P, van Lunsen R, Lycklama a Nijeholt G, Pemberton J, Wang A, Watier A, Van Kerrebroeck P (2005) Standardisation of terminology of pelvic floor muscle function and dysfunction: report from the pelvic floor clinical assessment group of the international continence society. Neurourol Urodyn 24:374–380PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Talasz H, Gosch M, Enzelsberger H, Rhomberg HP (2005) Geriatrische Patientinnen mit Harninkontinenz-Symptomen und ihre Kontrolle über den Beckenboden. Z Gerontol Geriatr 38:424–430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Davis K, Kumar D (2003) Pelvic floor dysfunction: a conceptual framework for collaborative patient-centred care. J Adv Nurs 43(6):555–568PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hagen S, Stark D, Maher C, Adams E (2006) Conservative management of pelvic organ prolapse in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 4:CD003882PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hay-Smith EJC, Bo K, Berghmanns LCM, Hendriks HJM, de Bie RA, van Waalwijk van Doorn ESC (2004) Pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2004. Wiley, Chichester, UKGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Schuessler B, Laycock J, Norton P, Stanton S (2002) Pelvic floor re-education: principles and practice. Springer, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Frawley HC, Galea MP, Phillips BA, Sherburn M, Bo K (2006) Reliability of pelvic floor muscle strength assessment using different test positions and tools. Neurourol Urodyn 25:236–242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Frawley H, Galea MP, Phillips BA, Sherburn M, Bo K (2006) Effect of test position on pelvic floor muscle assessment. Int Urogynecol J 17:365–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Laycock J, Standley A, Crothers E, Naylor D, Frank M, Garside S, Kiely E, Knight S, Pearson A (2001) Clinical guidelines for the physiotherapy management of females aged 16–65 with stress urinary incontinence. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Laycock J (1994) Clinical evaluation of the pelvic floor. In: Schuessler B, Laycock J, Norton P, Stanton S (eds) Pelvic floor re-education: principles and practice. Springer, London, pp 42–47Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Schuessler B (2002) (39–41) Aims of pelvic floor evaluation. In: Schuessler B, Laycock J, Norton P, Stanton S (eds) Pelvic floor re-education: principles and practice. London, SpringerGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bo K, Larsen S, Oseid S, Kvarstein B, Hagen R, Jorgensen J (1888) Knowledge about and ability to correct pelvic floor muscle exercises in women with stress urinary incontinence. Neurourol Urodyn 7(3):261–262Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dietz HP, Steensma AB, Vancaillie TG (2003) Levator function in nulliparous women. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct 14(1):24–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dietz HP, Wilson PD, Clarke B (2001) The use of perineal ultrasound to quantify levator activity and teach pelvic floor muscle exercises. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct 12(3):166–169PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kegel AH (1948) Progressive resistance exercise in the functional restoration of the perineal muscles. Am J Obstet Gynecol 56:238–249Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Theofrastus JP, Wyman JF Bump RC, McClish DK, Elser DM, Robinson D, Fantl JA (1997) Relationship between urethral and vaginal pressure during pelvic muscle contraction. Neurourol Urodynam 16:553–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Thompson J, O’Sullivan P, Briffa NK, Neumann P (2006) Assessment of voluntary pelvic floor muscle contraction in continent and incontinent women using transperineal ultrasound, manual muscle testing and vaginal pressure measurements. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct 12(3):166–169Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Devreese A, Staes, F, De Weerdt W, Feys H, Van Assche A, Penninckx F, Vereecken R (2004) Clinical evaluation of pelvic floor muscle function in continent and incontinent women. Neurourol Urodyn 23(3):190–197PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bo K, Finckenhagen B (2001) Vaginal palpation of pelvic floor muscle strength: intertester reproducibility and comparison between palpation and vaginal squeeze pressure. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 80:883–887PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bo K, Sherburn M (2005) Evaluation of female pelvic-floor muscle function and strength. Phys Ther 85(3):269–282PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Peschers UM, Gingelmaier A, Jundt K, Leib B, Dimpfl T (2001) Evaluation of pelvic floor muscle strength using four different techniques. Int Urogynecol J 12:27–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Urogynecology Journal 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • H Talasz
    • 1
  • G Himmer-Perschak
    • 5
  • E Marth
    • 3
  • J Fischer-Colbrie
    • 4
  • E Hoefner
    • 2
  • M Lechleitner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Internal MedicineHospital HochzirlZirlAustria
  2. 2.Department for NeurologyHospital HochzirlZirlAustria
  3. 3.Specialist for Gynecology with Private Practice, Department for Obstetrics and GynecologyMedical University InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  4. 4.Specialist for Gynecology with Private PracticeInnsbruckAustria
  5. 5.Specialist for Gynecology with Private PracticeKlagenfurtAustria

Personalised recommendations