Pelvic floor dysfunction covers a variety of symptoms. In this guideline, the following symptoms are addressed as long as they are associated with pelvic floor dysfunction: urinary incontinence, emptying disorders of the bladder, faecal incontinence, emptying disorders of the bowel, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual dysfunction and chronic pelvic pain syndromes. The 3 most common and definable conditions are urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Prevalence of pelvic floor dysfunction is high. For example, on examination, prolapse is present in up to 50% of women. This can have a significant impact on quality of life, reducing social engagement and ability to be physically active.

This guideline makes recommendations on common risk factors and on preventative interventions. Ideally, women who are most at risk of pelvic floor dysfunction would be identified early and offered interventions to prevent symptoms developing. This would reduce the impact on women and the NHS.

When pelvic floor dysfunction is diagnosed, there is variation in the availability of non-surgical management options, such as pelvic floor muscle training. Women have no clear and effective strategies available to prevent worsening of the condition. This guideline provides a more community-based pathway to address these problems and to reduce the number of women who develop complex symptoms that need specialist care (including surgery).

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)