Intravaginal Pressure in Continent and Incontinent Women - Research Article

The purpose of this interesting study was to determine if women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) when compared to continent women, generated lower intra vaginal pressure (IVP), slower pelvic floor muscle contraction times; were able to sustain vaginal pressure and if age was a factor with IVP. Data was collected via a vaginal probe with a pressure sensor. Women in the study performed maximal pelvic floor muscle (PFM) contractions, maximum coughs and a sustained PFM contraction.

The key findings showed there were no differences between women with and without SUI in their ability to generate IVP during a maximal voluntary PFM contraction, or to sustain a voluntary PFM contraction.

However women with SUI produced higher IVP during coughing than continent women. The authors concluded if women with SUI habitually use their PFM’s more than continent women in the attempt to limit urine loss and compensate for other deficits, this might cause a PFM training effect. The incontinent women may then have more ability to generate IVP and/or sustain the pressure for longer periods. The authors suggest that PFM strength training may help compensate for fascial and other defects in the pelvic floor. Training may also improve the speed at which IVP is generated through strengthening the neural pathways and improving the metabolic efficiency of the contraction. They suggest PFM programmes include specific training for coordination and power.

Increasing age was associated with lower recorded IVP during coughing and slower rates of pressure generated during coughing, being a good reason to continue specific PFM exercises throughout senior years.

Madill S, McLean L. Intravaginal pressure generated during voluntary pelvic floor muscle contractions and during coughing:The effect of age and continence status. J of NU (2010)29:437-442