Do women of reproductive age presenting with pelvic floor dysfunction have undisclosed anal incontinence: A retrospective cohort study

Julie Tucker, Luke Grzeskowiak, Elizabeth Mary Ann Murphy, Anne Wilson, Vicki L. Clifton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background Indirect and direct trauma following vaginal birth can negatively impact on the pelvic floor function increasing the risk of anal incontinence. It is often difficult for women to openly disclose that they have anal incontinence and there are limited data collection tools available for the identification of these women in a clinical setting. Aim This study aims to describe the prevalence of undisclosed anal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women with pelvic floor dysfunction. Methods Retrospective cohort study of 230 antenatal and postnatal women referred to a Continence Nursing Service in a large tertiary hospital in South Australia, Australia, with pelvic floor dysfunction. A criteria list was utilised to access the primary reason for referral, anal incontinence assessments and attendance to an appointment. Results Anal incontinence was identified in 26% of women (n = 59). Anal incontinence was the primary reason for referral amongst 8 women, with the remaining 51 women identified as having anal incontinence following clinical screening via phone consultation. Eighty six percent of women stated they had not previously disclosed anal incontinence to health professionals. Overall, 71% of symptomatic women (n = 28 antenatal and n = 14 postnatal women) attended appointments to a service specialising in pelvic floor dysfunction. Conclusion Women presenting with urinary incontinence or other markers of pelvic floor dysfunction should be actively screened for anal incontinence as the prevalence of this condition is high amongst childbearing women.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)18-22
    Number of pages5
    JournalWomen and Birth
    Volume30
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

    Keywords

    • Anal incontinence
    • Clinical screening
    • Pelvic floor dysfunction
    • Reproductive age
    • Women

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