Screening for Incidence and Effect of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in College-Aged Athletes.

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Screening for Incidence and Effect of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in College-Aged Athletes.

Salvo CJ, Crewe A, Estes D, Kroboth J, Yost C.



Background: Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) occurs when muscles of the pelvic floor become weakened, impaired, or experience tension leading to a variety of complications. Due to the reactive nature and high demands of many sports, athletes are at increased susceptibility and of particular interest concerning PFD.

Hypothesis/Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the prevalence of PFD among college-aged athletes, assess how PFD impacted athletic performance, and identify contributing factors for increased likelihood of PFD in athletes.

Study Design: Cross-Sectional Study

Methods: All fully active LVC NCAA Division 3 athletes were recruited for screening for PFD using the Cozean Pelvic Dysfunction Screening Protocol and were surveyed on their self-knowledge of PFD. Athletes who scored ≥ 3 on this tool completed an additional survey, created by the investigators, to identify the impact PFD had on their athletic performance and personal life and were then randomly assigned to one of three investigators to undergo a noninvasive coccygeal assessment to determine underactive, overactive, or normal pelvic floor muscle (PFM) activity.

Results: Fifty-three Division III male and female athletes between the ages of 18-25 years old participated in the study. Statistically significant differences were found between Cozean scores and demographic factors of age (p <0.001), gender (p <0.05), self-knowledge of PFD (p <0.001), and sport (p <0.001) among all participants that contributed to the increased likelihood of PFD. Thirteen athletes scored ≥ 3 on the Cozean with the 92.3% experiencing under/over active PFM activity and the majority indicating that PFD significantly impacted their athletic performance and quality of life.

Conclusion: The results indicate that older female NCAA Division III college athletes who participate in swimming and who possess self-knowledge of PFD are more likely to experience PFD. Additionally, these athletes are likely to encounter a significant impact on their athletic performance and quality of life. These results provide preliminary evidence on the need of PFD awareness and assessment among college athletes.

Level of Evidence: Level 3b