Before reading this article, I would recommend reading about Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and its Prevalence.
The goal of Dr. Wilson’s Pelvic Floor Dysfunction study was to make a connection between the type of delivery a woman has to subsequent pelvic floor dysfunction. The study followed women for 12 years, checking in at 3 months postpartum then again at six and twelve years after delivery. The pelvic floor issues reported on in this study were:
The types of deliveries looked at were:
- standard vaginal delivery (SVD)
- forceps-assisted delivery
- vacuum-assisted delivery
- combination caesarians and SVDs
After boring you with a bunch of reading, I thought I’d get some visuals together to “wow” you. Prepare to be amazed… And feel free to pin them to your health board in Pinterest. ;)
**Remember: SVD = Standard Vaginal Delivery
Delivery Method VS Urinary Incontinence
Three Months & 12 Years PostPartum
Delivery Method VS Faecal Incontinence
Three Months & 12 Years PostPartum
Delivery Method VS Pelvic Organ Prolapse Symptoms
Twelve Years PostPartum
** Keep in mind this is symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, not actual surgeries. That final data is not available (yet) from this study. The next part, at the twenty year mark, will provide those answers from this group. Dr. Wilson’s team will also be incorporating ultrasound and MRI data showing how forceps damage the pelvic floor.
Referencing an additional pelvic floor study from Canada:
Delivery Method VS Pelvic Organ Prolapse Surgery
It is clear that women who have exclusively had c-sections have the lowest risk for developing pelvic organ prolapse. Using this as our base, this is how your risk for standard and assisted vaginal deliveries:
- You are 9.2x more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse surgery with a vaginal birth than a woman who has had c-sections.
- You are 8.9x more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse surgery with a vacuum-assisted delivery than a woman who has had c-sections.
- You are 20x more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse surgery with a forceps-assisted delivery than a woman who has had a c-section.
Yes… I said TWENTY TIMES more likely to end up in surgery when you’ve had a forceps-assisted delivery!
And last, but definitely not least…
Delivery Method VS Sexual Satisfaction
Six years postpartum women were surveyed about their sex lives. I’m hoping some women are getting their’s back on track by this time after those exhausting baby years! ;)
- No difference in sexual satisfaction between vaginal deliveries and c-section Mamas. Yay! However…
- Women experiencing incontinence issues are significantly less satisfied sexually than women who are not. I’m sure one could hypothesize this without seeing the research!
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction symptoms do not get better over time – they get much, much worse! If you are suffering from any of these symptoms – speak up! Talk to your doctor and arrange an assessment by a women’s health physiotherapist.
- Approximately 1 in 3 women is experiencing urinary incontinence three months after giving birth.
- Approximately 1 in 2 women is experiencing urinary incontinence twelve years after giving birth.
- Having a c-section DOES NOT protect a women from incontinence issues.
- Women with a combination of c-sections and vaginal deliveries are taking on considerable risk for pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Forcep-assisted deliveries significantly increase your risk for faecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse surgery.
At this point you may be wondering: am I encouraging women to schedule an elective c-sections? Hell no! They come with risks of there own not related to pelvic floor dysfunction. I’m encouraging women to educate themselves on maternal health and take ownership of preventative measures and treatment. I hope that my message has been clear – We need to start TALKING about it, taking measures to PREVENT it, and when all else has failed, start TREATING it. The alternative is what I think many women think: “oh well, I guess that’s what happens when you have kids.” Not so. Even very infrequent bouts of incontinence ARE NOT normal and there are treatment options available.