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An insight into pelvic floor status in nulliparous women

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Introduction and hypothesis

Few studies have comprehensively investigated the prevalence of various types of pelvic floor Dysfunction (PFD) in women before their first pregnancy. However, no previous studies have investigated in detail all four compartments of PFD and the correlation between them.


This was a cross-sectional study nested within a parent prospective study Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) performed in a tertiary referral teaching hospital with approximately 9,000 deliveries per annum. Nulliparous women completed the validated Australian Pelvic Floor Questionnaire at 15 weeks’ gestation, at the time of recruitment to the SCOPE study. The questionnaire contained four sections, with questions about urinary, faecal, prolapse and sexual dysfunction in the prepregnancy period.


A total of 1,484 participants completed the prenatal questionnaire. Urinary dysfunction was present in 61 % of participants, faecal in 41 %, prolapse in 5 % and sexual in 41 %; in 37 %, dysfunction was perceived as bothersome . At least one clinically significant symptom, defined as severity grade 2 or 3, or grade 1 associated with being bothersome, was reported by 58.2 % of participants. More than one type of PFD was present in 57.6 % of cases. The severity score of each symptom within a PFD section was associated with total section score.


We confirmed a high rate of PFD in nulliparous women. Clinically significant symptoms and associated bother were very common among symptomatic participants. The majority of affected women had more than one type of PFD. Postnatal follow-up is needed in order to elucidate the role of prepregnancy symptoms in the aetiology of postnatal pelvic floor pathology.

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We thank all SCOPE Ireland participants, the Continence Foundation Ireland and Anu Research Centre for their input into this research project.


SCOPE Ireland is funded by Health Research Board of Ireland (grant reference CSA 2007/2). The study was supported by Continence Foundation Ireland and Anu Research Centre, UCC.

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Correspondence to C. M. Durnea.

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Durnea, C.M., Khashan, A.S., Kenny, L.C. et al. An insight into pelvic floor status in nulliparous women. Int Urogynecol J 25, 337–345 (2014).

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