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PELVIC MUSCLE RELAXATION: Assessment and Management


  • Carolyn M. Sampselle PhD, RNC, OGNP,

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    • Carolyn M. Sampselle, PhD, RNC, OGNP, is an assistant professor of parent–child nursing in the School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a NAACOG-certified ObGyn Nurse Practitioner.

  • Carol A. Brink MPH, RN

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    • Carol Brink, MPH, RN, is an associate professor of clinical nursing and Chief of Gerontological Nursing at the School of Nursing, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

University of Michigan, School of Nursing, 400 N. Ingalls, Ann Arbor. MI 48109-0482.


Strong pelvic musculature is important to the health of women because of the role it plays in maintaining urinary continence and in providing support to the pelvic organs. Therefore, assessment for pelvic muscle relaxation and strategies for preventive and therapeutic management are necessary elements of care. This paper discusses several assessment techniques that were tested in research settings but that are readily transferable to clinical care. Research-based recommendations for nurse-midwifery management, with emphasis on effective teaching of pelvic muscle exercise, are made. Pelvic muscle exercise is a noninvasive technique that should be used as the initial treatment of urinary incontinence, before a surgical alternative is tried. Moreover, women with weaker pelvic musculature, who are identified early, can begin a program of preventive exercise that may help to avoid incontinence in later life.