In observation of National Women’s Health Week 2014, NICHD medical officer Dr. Susan F. Meikle and PFD Network grantee Dr. Matthew D. Barber discussed the importance of research in developing better treatments for PFDs, including urinary and fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Listen to Dr. Barber explain what doctors can do minimize the risk of PFDs.
Audio recording (MP3 - 700 KB)
Dr. Barber: There are things that health care providers can do that can minimize the risk to patients, particularly obstetricians in terms of obstetrical practice. For instance, we know that episiotomy, if done routinely, will increase the risk of damaging the anal sphincter and increase the risk of bowel control problems. And so now, the recommendations [from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] in the guidelines are to avoid episiotomy, which is a big change in obstetrical practice over the last 20 years.
We also know that use of certain operative, vaginal operative delivery techniques like forceps delivery can increase the risk of pelvic floor disorders. Now, there may be very good obstetrical reasons to do those things, but if done routinely, it should probably be avoided, because it can cause increased risk to the pelvic floor of women.