Pelvic Floor Health in Female Military Personnel: A Narrative Review

Simone O'Shea, Rodney Pope, Rob Marc Orr, Katharine Freire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: A growing female workforce within military forces internationally necessitates comprehensive consideration of this population’s unique health requirements within a wide range of military contexts. Pelvic floor health is a key area where support needs vary between sexes because of differences in pelvic anatomy and function.
Purpose: To explore what is known about the pelvic floor health of women working in military contexts, specific risk factors and relationships between pelvic floor problems and military occupational health, safety and performance.
Methods: Searches of multiple health and Defence databases identified published studies of relevance to this review’s aims. Findings of relevance were extracted and synthesised to provide a narrative overview of the topic.
Findings: From the available studies, genitourinary infections and urinary incontinence were both found to affect up to one-third of serving women. Some self-management strategies used by servicewomen, particularly when deployed, may have negative health consequences. Serving women also identified environmental, equipment and cultural factors that challenged their ability to manage their pelvic health in occupational contexts.
Conclusion: A sizeable proportion of military women experience pelvic floor conditions. Consideration of how to optimise and support the pelvic floor health of female military personnel is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
JournalJournal of Military and Veterans' Health
Volume29
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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