What are pelvic floor problems and why do we get them?

Pelvic floor dysfunction is the term used to describe urinary (wee) incontinence, faecal (poo) incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and pain. 

It is common for women to suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction during pregnancy and after birth but it is not something that you have to put up with.  Our specialist pelvic health physiotherapy teams can offer assessment and treatment of your symptoms.

Research shows that we may be able to predict which women are more likely to suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction.  If you have one or more of the risk factors listed below then you are more at risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction during pregnancy or after the birth of your baby.  

To help identify if you are more at risk, you will be asked some questions at your midwife appointments and GP check-up after birth.

Risk Factors

Related to pregnancy:

  • Age 30yrs or older at first delivery
  • Multiparity (more than one birth)

Related to labour:

  • Assisted vaginal birth with forceps or vacuum
  • Vaginal birth baby born face up.
  • Active second stage (pushing) longer than 1 hour
  • 3rd or 4th degree perineal tear (OASI)


  • BMI > 25kg/m2
  • Smoker
  • Lack of exercise
  • Constipation
  • Control of diabetes


  • Family history of Urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence or overactive bladder
  • Gynaecological cancer or treatment
  • Gynaecological surgery 
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic respiratory disease and cough

Where to go next

It is important to get help if you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, especially if you are not improving. Speak with your GP or midwife in the first instance, and they may refer you to a pelvic health physiotherapist or you can self-refer to the Physiotherapy department.

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