This study sought to investigate the effects of pelvic floor muscle exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period on pelvic floor muscle activity and voiding functions. Pregnant women (n = 60) were placed at random into two groups (Training [n = 30] and Control [n = 30]) using a computer-based system. Pelvic floor muscle strength was measured using a perineometry device. Urinary symptoms were measured using the Urinary Distress Inventory (UDI-6), Incontinence Impact Questionnaire (IIQ-7), and the Overactive Bladder Questionnaire (OAB-q). Voiding functions were measured using uroflowmetry and 3-day voiding diaries. Measurements were obtained at week 28, weeks 36-38 of pregnancy, and postpartum weeks 6-8. Pelvic floor muscle strength was significantly reduced during the pregnancy (P < 0.001). However, pelvic floor muscle strength improvement was significantly higher in the Training group compared to the Control group (P 0.05). However, UDI-6, coping, concern, and total scores of OAB-q were significantly reduced during weeks 36-38 of pregnancy in the Control group (P < 0.05). The UDI-6 and OAB-q scores were significantly improved during postpartum weeks 6-8 (P < 0.05). Voiding functions were negatively affected in both groups, decreasing during weeks 36-38 of pregnancy and improving during the postpartum period.
Pregnancy and delivery affect pelvic floor muscle strength, urinary symptoms, quality of life, and voiding functions. Pelvic floor muscle exercises conducted during pregnancy and the postpartum period raise pelvic floor muscle strength and prevent deterioration of urinary symptoms and quality of life in pregnancy.