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New Zealand Women Would Benefit From Pelvic Floor Muscle ۺŮ 

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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Updated
17 June 2024
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Providing women with pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy would put a major dent in New Zealand’s increasing prevalence of pelvic floor disorders. 

New Zealand’s obstetricians and gynaecologists are increasingly concerned about pelvic floor disorders and injuries and want to see a marked reduction in the number of Kiwi women affected by these problems. 

Any woman can have pelvic floor issues, but both pregnancy and childbirth are significant risk factors, says the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ۺŮ). 

Vice-president, Dr Sue Fleming, says pelvic floor disorders mean one in three women will experience urinary incontinence, one in 10 will have faecal incontinence and one in 12 pelvic organ prolapse 

Those statistics reach ‘epidemic’ proportions in later life, with 46 per cent of women having at least one major type of pelvic floor disorder. 

“There’s generally poor awareness about these health conditions and a lack of support and treatment options.  But there is a lot of stigma associated with them – and there shouldn’t be.  Women should be able to seek help. 

“Pelvic floor disorders can have a very real impact on a women’s mental health and self-esteem, on their relationships and finances, and their participation in society,” she says. 

ۺŮ wants to see structured pelvic floor muscle training given to women in early pregnancy. 

“In an ideal world all women would receive antenatal education on pelvic floor health and appropriate muscle training during pregnancy,” says Dr Fleming. 

“With the right exercises we can reduce urinary incontinence in late pregnancy by about 62 per cent and reduce it by 29 per cent at three to six months after childbirth.” 

A major problem, Dr Fleming says, is that pelvic floor muscle training and other prevention strategies are not routinely discussed antenatally in New Zealand. 

“We would like to see New Zealand follow the example of Britain’s National Health Service and introduce fully-funded pelvic floor muscle training for all pregnant women.” 

In the meantime, ۺŮ wants to spread the word to women about the importance of pelvic floor muscle exercises. 

For media enquiries, or to speak to women who have experienced pelvic floor disorders, and who are willing to talk to media, please contact:
Daniel Paul +64 21 400 993

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Advocacy Aotearoa New Zealand Women’s health

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