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Risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction

Modifiable risk factors

  • A body mass index (BMI) over 25 kg/m2


  • Smoking


  • Lack of exercise


  • Constipation


  • Diabetes

Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Age (risk increases with increasing age)


  • Family history of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder or faecal incontinence


  • Gynaecological cancer and any treatments for this


  • Gynaecological surgery (such as a hysterectomy)


  • Fibromyalgia


  • Chronic respiratory disease and cough (chronic cough may increase the risk of faecal incontinence and flatus incontinence)

Related to pregnancy:

  • Being over 30 years when having a baby


  • Having given birth before their current pregnancy

Related to labour:

  • Assisted vaginal birth (forceps or vacuum)


  • A vaginal birth when the baby is lying face up (occipito-posterior)


  • An active second stage of labour taking more than 1 hour


  • Injury to the anal sphincter during birth


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