Association of Baseline Pelvic Floor Muscle Activities With Sexual and Urinary Functions In Female Stress Urinary Incontinence

Evelyn Yang, Shwu Huey Yang, Wen Chen Huang, Su Chen Yeh, Jenn Ming Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The presence of reactive and strong pelvic floor muscle (PFM) activities is supposed to be associated with better urinary and sexual functions in female stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Aim: This study was to explore the association of baseline PFM activities, both volitional and reflex, with urinary and sexual functions in women with SUI but who had no experience of PFM training programs before. Methods: Secondary analysis of a prospectively maintained database identified 125 sexually active women with SUI who had met the eligibility criteria. All patients had undergone intravaginal digital examination and pelvic ultrasound to detect volitional and reflex PFM activities, respectively, and responded to questionnaire surveys, including short forms of the urogenital distress inventory, incontinence impact questionnaire-7, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse/Urinary Incontinence Sexual Questionnaire. On pelvic ultrasound, an inward clitoral motion and an anorectal lift preceding or during coughing were regarded as the presence of reflex activities of the PFM. Outcomes: The relationship of volitional and reflex PFM activities with pelvic floor dysfunction relating questionnaires and urethral function on urodynamic studies was analyzed. Result: Of the 125 women studied, 30 (24.0%) had volitional PFM contraction strength less than grade 2, 74 (59.2%) grade 2 to 3, and 21 (16.8%) greater than grade 3 based on the modified Oxford grading scale. During or preceding coughing, an inward clitoral motion was not observed on ultrasound in 9 (7.2%) women and an anorectal lift was not observed in 8 (6.4%) women. The strength of volitional PFM contraction and the presence or absence of anorectal lift reflex was not associated with urethral and sexual function. In contrast, the absence of reflex inward clitoral motion was significantly associated with lower maximum urethral closure pressure (P =.042) and higher scores of urogenital distress inventory-6 (P =.006) and incontinence impact questionnaire-7 (P =.029). Clinical implications: Higher volitional PFM contraction strength was not associated with better sexual and urinary functions; however, loss of one reflex PFM activity was associated with poorer urinary function. Strengths & Limitation: To our knowledge, this is the first study that evaluates the association of baseline PFM activities with sexual and urinary functions in female SUI. Nevertheless, the cross-sectional design of this study cannot well support the cause-effect relationship Conclusion: Besides PFM physiotherapy for enhancing sexual and urinary functions in female SUI, additional treatment strategies such as neuromodulation should take into consideration for those who had absent reflex PFM activities. Yang E, Yang SH, Huang WC, et al. Association of Baseline Pelvic Floor Muscle Activities With Sexual and Urinary Functions In Female Stress Urinary Incontinence. J Sex Med 2021;18:1698–1704.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1698-1704
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Pelvic Ultrasound
  • Reflex Pelvic Floor Muscle Activity
  • Stress Urinary Incontinence
  • Urethral Function
  • Volitional Pelvic Floor Muscle Contraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of Baseline Pelvic Floor Muscle Activities With Sexual and Urinary Functions In Female Stress Urinary Incontinence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this