The long-term effectiveness of antenatal pelvic floor muscle training: eight-year follow up of a randomised controlled trial


Dr WI Agur, Urogynaecology Research Unit, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, PL6 8DH, UK. Email


Objective  To determine the long-term effectiveness of antenatal pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) on stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Design  Eight-year follow up of a randomised controlled trial (RCT).

Setting  Acute NHS Teaching Trust.

Population  Participants in an RCT of antenatal PFMT 8 years previously.

Method  Participants were asked about the presence of SUI, impact on quality of life, frequency of performance of PFMT and details of subsequent deliveries.

Main outcome measure  The prevalence of SUI at 8 years.

Results  One hundred and sixty-four (71%) of the original 230 women responded. The significant improvement in postnatal SUI originally shown in the PFMT group compared with controls (19.2 versus 32.7%, P = 0.02) at 3 months was not evident 8 years later (35.4 versus 38.8%, P = 0.7). On direct questioning, 68.4% of the study group claimed that they still performed PFMT as taught during the study, with 38.0% of them performing this twice or more per week. There was no difference in outcome between those who performed PFMT twice or more per week compared with those performing PFMT less frequently. There were no differences in quality-of-life domains between the study and the control groups at 8 years.

Conclusion  The initially beneficial effect of supervised antenatal PFMT on SUI did not continue for a long term despite the majority claiming to still perform PFMT. These findings are in keeping with those of other studies and raise concerns about the long-term efficacy of PFMT. Strategies to improve compliance with PFMT are required.