Knowledge of pelvic floor problems: a study of third trimester, primiparous women

Pelvic floor problems in women (urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, uterovaginal prolapse) are common, and have an adverse effect on quality of life. We hypothesized that there is low knowledge of these problems amongst primiparous women in their third trimester of pregnancy.

We conducted a cross-sectional study in antenatal clinics of three hospitals in London, UK, from 2011 to 2013. Primiparous women aged ≥18 years and in the third trimester of pregnancy answered questions on pelvic floor problems. Knowledge scores were calculated based on the proportion of questions answered correctly.

A total of 249 women completed the question set. The average knowledge score across all domains was low at 45 %. Scores were lowest for the less common problems of faecal incontinence (35 %) and prolapse (36 %). The score for urinary incontinence was higher at 63 %, but low when questions explored more detailed levels of knowledge (41 %). Knowledge scores were positively associated with both education to tertiary level and the use of books as the information source on pregnancy and delivery. Only 35 % of women cited antenatal classes as a source.

Knowledge of pelvic floor problems is low amongst third-trimester, primiparous women in this London-based population. Adequate knowledge of these problems is important for women to be able to make informed choices about their antenatal care and to seek help if problems arise. The data suggest scope for health-care professionals to raise these issues early during pregnancy, and to help women access accurate sources of information.

International urogynecology journal. 2016 Aug 10 [Epub ahead of print]

Aideen T O'Neill, Joanne Hockey, Patrick O'Brien, Amanda Williams, Tim P Morris, Tahira Khan, Emma Hardwick, Wai Yoong

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Sterling Way, London, N18 1QX, UK. ., Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Free London NHS Trust, London, UK., University College London Hospital and The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, London, UK., Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK., Hub for Trials Methodology Research, MRC Clinical Trials Unit, University College London, London, UK., UCL Medical School, Gower Street, London, UK., Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Free London NHS Trust, London, UK., Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Sterling Way, London, N18 1QX, UK.

Pelvic Health Weekly Newsletter