Evidently Advent Day 10: best health evidence wrapped up for the festive season!

What do these women have in common?

No cheating – don’t read on until you’ve had a guess!

You can have two guesses if you like.

Or try asking the person next to you.

The answer, of course (what? you didn’t get it?), is that they’re all doing their pelvic floor exercises. What wise women they are. Perhaps they’ve read the Cochrane evidence.

Women with stress urinary incontinence who did pelvic floor exercises reported benefits, compared with women in other groups (who either had no treatment, or a dummy pill, fake electrical stimulation or another inactive treatment). For starters, they were 8 times more likely to report they they were cured and 17 times more likely to report cure or improvement. They leaked less often and smaller amounts and needed to empty their bladders less often. One trial found they had better sex too! You can read more about this review in my blog and don’t miss this blog from Elaine Miller, physiotherapist, comedian and recovered incontinent, in which she tells us about other Cochrane evidence on why incontinence matters, what we know from research and what women can do about it.


Dumoulin C, Hay-Smith EJC, Mac Habée-Séguin G. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD005654. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005654.pub3.

Hay-Smith EJC, Herderschee R, Dumoulin C, Herbison GP. Comparisons of approaches to pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD009508. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009508.

Herderschee R, Hay-Smith EJC, Herbison GP, Roovers JP, Heineman MJ. Feedback or biofeedback to augment pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD009252. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009252.

Ayeleke RO, Hay-Smith EJC, Omar MI. Pelvic floor muscle training added to another active treatment versus the same active treatment alone for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD010551. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010551.pub3.

Herbison GP, Dean N. Weighted vaginal cones for urinary incontinence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD002114. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002114.pub2.

Boyle R, Hay-Smith EJC, Cody JD, Mørkved S. Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD007471. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007471.pub2

Page last updated on 30 December 2015

Sarah Chapman

About Sarah Chapman

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Sarah's work as a Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, including Evidently Cochrane blogs, blogshots and the ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and patients. A former registered general nurse, Sarah has a particular interest making evidence accessible and useful to practitioners and to others making decisions about health. Before joining Cochrane, Sarah also worked on systematic reviews for the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute, and obtained degrees in History from the University of Oxford and in the history of women’s health and illness in early modern England (MPhil., University of Reading).

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