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Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women: A short version Cochrane review


  • Christopher Chapple led the peer-review process as the Associate Editor responsible for the paper.
  • For additional and background references please see full version of Cochrane Review.
  • Contributions of authors: R.B. and J.H.S. screened all trials for eligibility, extracted and cross checked the data. RB did most of the data entry, which was cross checked by JHS. JHS wrote the first draft of the protocol and the previous review. RB drafted the updated review, with assistance from JHS. JC helped with interpretation of the data and risk of bias and commented on the final draft. SM contributed to data abstraction and commented on the final draft.
  • Conflict of Interest: Yes, Siv Mørkved was an investigator on one of the included trials in the review.
  • Citation Example: Boyle R, Hay-Smith EJC, Cody JD, Mørkved S. Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD007471. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007471.pub2.
  • This paper is based on a Cochrane review (Boyle 2012) published in The Cochrane Library (see for information). Cochrane Reviews are regularly updated as new evidence emerges and in response to feedback, and The Cochrane Library should be consulted for the most recent version of the review. If you wish to comment on this or other Cochrane Reviews, please use the Cochrane Library Feedback System. The results of a Cochrane Review can be interpreted differently, depending on people's perspectives and circumstances. Please consider the conclusions presented carefully. They are the opinions of the review authors, and are not necessarily shared by The Cochrane Collaboration.



Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is commonly recommended during pregnancy and after birth both for prevention and the treatment of incontinence.


Effect of pelvic floor muscle training compared to usual antenatal and postnatal care on incontinence.

Search Methods

Cochrane Incontinence Group Specialized Register; handsearching (searched February 7, 2012); the references of relevant articles.

Selection Criteria

Randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials in pregnant or postnatal women having pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) versus no PFMT or standard care.

Data Collection and Analysis

Duplicate trial assessment, selection and data abstraction.


Twenty-two trials involving 8,485 women. Continent pregnant women (prevention) who had intensive antenatal PFMT were less likely to report urinary incontinence up to 6 months after delivery (risk ratio (RR) 0.71, 95% CI 0.54–0.95). Incontinent postnatal women (treatment) who received PFMT were less likely to report urinary incontinence 12 months after delivery (RR 0.60, 95% CI 0.35–1.03). In a mixed population (women with and without incontinence symptoms in late pregnancy or after delivery), PFMT did not reduce incontinence rates after delivery.

Authors' Conclusions

For women who are continent during pregnancy, PFMT may prevent urinary incontinence up to 6 months after delivery. The extent to which mixed prevention and treatment approaches to PFMT in the postnatal period are effective is less clear that is, offering advice on PFMT to all pregnant or postpartum women whether they have incontinence symptoms or not. There was little evidence about long-term effects for either urinary or fecal incontinence. Neurourol. Urodynam. 33:269–276, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.