World Journal of Urology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 639–644 | Cite as

The effect of abdominal and pelvic floor muscle activation patterns on urethral pressure

  • Ruth R. Sapsford
  • Barton Clarke
  • Paul W. Hodges
Original Article



Urethral pressure increases during voluntary pelvic floor (PF) muscle contractions in healthy women. As PF and abdominal muscle activity is coordinated, this study aimed to determine whether specific abdominal muscle actions also change urethral pressure.


Urethral pressures were measured in seven healthy women during lower abdominal in-drawing, abdominal bulging and PF muscle contractions, with the bladder empty and filled to 250 ml. A repeated measures multiple analysis of variance compared vesical, rectal and urethral pressure changes between bladder volumes and the three tasks.


Urethral pressures increased by a similar amount during PF muscle contractions and abdominal in-drawing (p = 0.94) and did not differ between bladder status. During abdominal bulging, urethral pressures decreased by 12.6 (18.2) cmH2O (full bladder) and 18.1 (11.5) cmH2O (empty bladder) and were different from the other two manoeuvres (p < 0.001).


This study shows that specific abdominal actions are associated with increased or decreased urethral pressures, consistent with strategies for continence and voiding.


Abdominal muscles Intra-abdominal pressure Pelvic floor muscles Urethral pressure 



The authors wish to thank Susannah Kelley for ultrasound assessment of the abdominal muscles and Sue Markwell for assistance with data collection. R Sapsford received funding for this study from The Australian Physiotherapy Association, Queensland Branch, Dorothy Hopkins award for Clinical Research. Paul Hodges received funding from The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest to report. Primary data from the study are held by the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth R. Sapsford
    • 1
    • 3
  • Barton Clarke
    • 2
  • Paul W. Hodges
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of UrogynaecologyRoyal Brisbane and Women’s HospitalHerstonAustralia
  3. 3.ToowongAustralia

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