Pelvic floor exercise or muscle training (PFMT) is used to improve strength, endurance, and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles. There are two hypotheses regarding the use of PFMT for prolapse: (1) that strengthening these muscles can improve the structural support for the pelvic organs, and (2) that women develop a “knack” for consciously contracting their pelvic floor before/during increases in intra-abdominal pressure.
What research currently says about pelvic floor exercise training.
Within the available literature, there is general consistency regarding prescribed dosage comprising of 3 sets of 8-12 max pelvic floor muscle contractions per day. The duration of specific pelvic floor muscle training should be conducted over a 3-6 month period on the basis of muscle physiology, necessary for muscle hypertrophy. However, strength is not the only measure of muscle function and unfortunately there is a lack of research comparing muscle training, or looking at sub maximal pelvic floor exercise in conjunction with motor control training. If you are a pelvic health therapist interested in continuing education regarding POP, PF exercise and motor control and intra-abdominal pressure training techniques , please see my Teaching page for training opportunities.
Consider an individualized exercise program
Administration of PFMT is more beneficial for the patient when the supervised training is given individually rather than in a group. This accounts for individual strength and activity differences. Further research is needed to identify the characteristics of patients that predict positive/negative treatment outcomes. The majority of the literature reviewed focused on short duration effects of PFMT; therefore, longer duration follow-up studies of PFMT are warranted.
What the research says about POP and Pelvic Floor Exercise
This complimentary literature review download includes 14 articles addressing exercise science and pelvic organ prolapse.