Although pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) has a multifactorial etiology, pregnancy and childbirth are considered crucial events predisposing to urinary incontinence as well as pelvic organ prolapse, which are highly prevalent. Rats are the most frequently used animal model and pudendal nerve crush (PNC) and vaginal distension (VD) are often used to mimic vaginal delivery.
To document the time course of events after simulated vaginal delivery (SVD) on the urethral sphincter and the vaginal smooth muscle layer.
Virgin female Sprague-Dawley rats were subjected to SVD (PNC + VD) or sham surgery and evaluated at 7, 14, 21, and 42 days after the injury. Urethral function was determined in vivo by microultrasound during cystometry and vaginal smooth muscle layer was harvested for in vitro pharmacologic investigation by isometric tension recording. Furthermore, vaginal and urethral samples were investigated by immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Microultrasound showed no bursting of the urethral sphincter in the SVD group at 7 days with a functional recovery starting at 14 days, and normal bursting at 21 and 42 days. Vaginal smooth muscle showed higher sensitivity to carbachol at 14 and 21 days after injury; however, at 42 days, its sensitivity decreased when compared with sham.
SVD induces urethral dysfunction and a shift in vaginal smooth muscle contractile responses to carbachol.

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