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1 in 3 Irish women affected by pelvic floor dysfunction

The rise in the number of Irish women having Caesarean sections is not a result of women being “too posh to push” – there’s a hidden story that also impacts women’s choices around childbirth: pelvic floor dysfunction.

Image: Isabelle-Anne Tassé via Shutterstock

THE RECENT RISE of the number of women in Ireland having Caesarean sections is not a result of women being “too posh to push”, with up to 80 per cent of women experiencing pelvic floor damage during the birth of their first baby, according to the Continence Foundation of Ireland (CFI).

One in three Irish women experience a distressing and embarrassing condition known pelvic floor dysfunction – which refers to a group of clinical conditions that occur when muscles of the pelvic floor are weak or tight. As a result, up to 40 per cent of women will experience some degree of incontinence in their lifetime and almost 10 per cent will undergo surgery for urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse, CFI says.

Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur as a result of obesity, menopause, pregnancy and childbirth where it is thought that pregnancy itself may be the cause regardless of birth method (caesarean or vaginal delivery), however up to 80 per cent of women experience pelvic floor damage during the birth of their first baby. Some women may opt for elective C-sections due to previous pelvic floor damage

Almost 15 per cent of women will require an operation and 30 per cent of those undergoing surgery will have at least two surgeries in trying to correct the problem, the symptoms of which may include urinary incontinence, faecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, bladder pain syndrome, defecatory dysfunction, and several chronic pain syndromes.

This month will see the largest annual conference of the International Urogynecological Association (IUGA) take place in Dublin, where almost 1,500 health professionals from more than 70 countries will gather to hear world leading experts lead debate and discuss contemporary issues such as natural versus caesarean childbirth, the latest surgical techniques for prolapsed repair, and the latest management of urinary incontinence.

The public information evening will take place at 7pm on Tuesday 28 May at the Convention Centre, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1 (Liffey Room 2).

Read: National Maternity Hospital to leave Holles St in €150m move
Watch: More men experience the pain of childbirth
Read: Government accepts Bill to allow for symphysiotomy compensation
Column: New HSE plans will further limit women’s choices in childbirth

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