Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury (OASI) is associated with significant morbidity in the form of pelvic floor dysfunction, both in the immediate period of healing and long term. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of urinary, anorectal and sexual symptoms arising from OASI within 6 weeks after delivery at their first physiotherapy appointment (immediate postnatal) and 3-6 months after delivery following completion of physiotherapy (intermediate postnatal). Symptom prevalence were compared between the two time periods and the impact of pelvic floor physiotherapy analysed to determine any changes in symptomology.
This prospective observational study, conducted at a tertiary teaching hospital, involved completion of a paper questionnaire by pelvic floor physiotherapists at the immediate postnatal review and by consultant gynaecologists at the intermediate postnatal review. Data were then compared to determine changes in symptoms using Fisher Exact tests and Mann Whitney U tests.
Of the 131 women seen within 6 weeks of delivery, follow-up data at 3-6 months were collected for 96. There was a significant improvement in pain on defecation (P = 0.008), rectal bleeding on wiping (P = 0.0233) and women’s ability to defer a bowel motion (P = 0.0001) however faecal incontinence did not improve significantly even with supervised physiotherapy. Urinary symptoms including stress incontinence, urgency and nocturia also significantly improved at P = 0.0097, P = 0.0045 and P < 0.0001, respectively. For the sexual domain, significantly more women had resumed intercourse (P < 0.0001) and started using contraception (P < 0.0001) by the follow up appointment.
This study shows that physiotherapy is valuable in the treatment of urinary symptoms after delivery but does not have the same impact on faecal incontinence. Further investigation is required to confirm if early anal symptomology may be a predictor of long-term adverse outcomes.

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