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Researchers are calling for improved care and greater awareness of the injury that causes anal incontinence in more than one in five births.

More than one in five women will experience anal incontinence during the first five years after giving birth vaginally. Anal incontinence is common and usually caused by trauma to the pelvic floor, nerve damage, or damage to the anal sphincter muscles.

The timing of symptoms varies. Some women develop anal incontinence soon after giving birth (which may or may not resolve), but many women experience worsening or new symptoms during menopause.

Research led by the University of Warwick, in partnership with the MASIC Foundation (a national charity supporting women seriously injured during childbirth), aims to identify missed opportunities to get anal incontinence diagnosed and the creation of a clear pathway for people with anal incontinence. Deficiencies identified. referral for treatment and lack of awareness of the issue among health professionals and birth survivors.The research will be published in a journal pro swan.

The research team conducted qualitative interviews with women who had experienced anal incontinence after a birth injury, had new or worsening symptoms of anal incontinence within seven years of the injury, or experienced menopause.

Due to the stigmatized nature of anal incontinence, it is often not reported by those who suffer, with less than 25% of women discussing their problem with their GP unless prompted. Health care professionals may feel uncomfortable asking about anal incontinence after childbirth or may lack experience in asking about, detecting, and managing it. This means a missed opportunity to identify women and refer them to appropriate care pathways.

The research comes as the UK government aims to tackle inequalities in women’s health care. women’s health strategy—Aims to improve health outcomes for women.

It will also be followed by the release of Ockenden reviewwas announced in lancetreported on Women’s Health in the UK and said the provision of substandard maternity care was leading to unnecessary deaths and injuries.

Dr Sarah Hillman, from Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, said: ‘We interviewed more than 40 women who had experienced anal incontinence due to birth injuries.’Women may not have had their test taken or had it delayed or missed. “They reported that they missed the opportunity to receive a diagnosis.” Opportunities were missed to normalize or dismiss the diagnosis and symptoms, and to provide appropriate and timely information.

“There is a lack of awareness of this issue and a stigma against urinary incontinence, both for health professionals and women. Even those who are able to receive a diagnosis of anal incontinence face disjointed care pathways. All of these contribute to delays in accessing appropriate care for this debilitating problem.

“Going forward, we have identified the need to establish clear care pathways for people diagnosed with anal incontinence, and the critical importance of raising awareness and reducing taboos around this issue.”

Professor Michael Keighley, Chair of the MASIC Foundation, said: ‘The MASIC Foundation is the only UK charity supporting and campaigning for women who suffer severe perineal damage after childbirth. , may face social isolation, psychological and sexual distress, and unspoken taboos such as post-traumatic stress and fear of future childbirth.

“These women need support, from finding friends who have been similarly injured, to being signposted to interventions that can help them cope with the effects of their trauma, as treatments are rare.” This is what MASIC can offer, and we will continue to do so by campaigning for a national strategy to be rolled out through the Royal Colleges to prevent these injuries. ”

For more information:
Joanne Parsons et al, Women’s experiences of anal incontinence after vaginal delivery: A qualitative study of missed opportunities in routine care contacts, pro swan (2023). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0287779

Provided by University of Warwick

Quote: 1 in 5 missed opportunities due to postnatal anal incontinence (June 28, 2023) From 2023 Retrieved September 28,

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