ARE FEMALE ADOLESCENTS INFORMED ABOUT AND INTERESTED IN THE PELVIC FLOOR?
NEELS1, W. A. TJALMA 2, S. DE WACHTER 3, J. WYNDAELE 4, A. VERMANDEL 5;
1Faculty of Medicin and Health Sciences, Univ. of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium, 2Faculty of Medicin and Health Sciences, Antwerp Univ. Hosp. - Univ. of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium, 3Faculty of Medicin and Health Sciences, Antwerp Univ. Hosp. - Univ. of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium, 4Univ. of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium, 5Faculty of Medicin and Health Sciences, Antwerp Univ. Hosp. - Univ. of Antwerp, wilrijk, Belgium.
Introduction: Female Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is an important health care issue, because of its high prevalence, its invalidating effect on quality of life and its impact on the health care system. Multiparity, menopause, pregnancy and childbirth are some of the most important risk factors for PFD. Although pelvic floor muscle training is recommended as first-line treatment and prevention strategy for PFD in women, the prevalence rates of PFD remain very high in women during the reproductive age and beyond. Feelings of embarrassment and shame, combined with insufficient knowledge and misperceptions about PFD are the largest barriers to seeking care. PFD still remain a taboo topic and is underreported. The prevalence of PFD in healthy female adolescents (4 to 6% occasionally urinary incontinence) is low, but nevertheless, their exposure to the most common risk factors (such as pregnancy and delivery) is approaching while they are growing up to sexual active young females. Therefore primary prevention should ideally start in adolescence.
Objective: The objective of this research was to investigate whether adolescent girls ever received information about the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) and PFD; whether they are interested to receive more information about these topics; and through which canals they would prefer to get informed. In a small sample of this group of adolescent girls, the knowledge of the PFM function was also investigated.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey design, approved by the local Ethics committee. A reliable and valid questionnaire was distributed to female adolescents (12-18 years old) in High Schools, technical education and vocational schools. A smaller sample also received four questions about the function of the PFM. Descriptive statistics were generated for all variables, Chi-square tests were used.
Results: A total of 399 questionnaires were distributed, the responses of 381 female adolescents (mean age= 15.0, SD= 1.78) were included (response rate 95.5%). Hundred girls were asked if they knew the function of the PFM: 76 (76%) declined, only 25 (25%) knew the closure function; 21 (21%) the support function and 22 (22%) the sexual function of the PFM. Sixteen percent (n= 61) of the 381 adolescents ever received information about PFM, mostly during comprehensive sex education on School. A total of 166 (44%) girls wants to receive further information on this topic; 136 (36%) is not interested and 65 (17%) is undecided. 140 (36%) girls answered that they already searched for information on their own, through friends or family; while more than half of all girls (n= 221, 58%) would prefer to be informed through school, in group.
Conclusions: The test results reveal that most adolescent girls have no knowledge about the PFM or their function. Most adolescent females were never informed about the PFM and never about PFD. Although the majority of them would prefer to get better informed about these topics, ideally through school, in group. We therefore argue that information about the PFM and possible pelvic floor dysfunction should be included and discussed during their education. If these topics would be discussed in their general education, through school, the taboo about pelvic floor dysfunction later in life could be diminished.