Sphincter muscle activity before and after delivery: Does it depend on the type of birth?

Vita Začesta (Coresponding Author), Laura Rācene, Corrado Cescon, Haralds Plaudis, Dace Rezeberga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim: There are ongoing discussions whether cesarean section is the safest mode of childbirth to prevent pelvic floor disorders. Pelvic floor electromyography (EMG) allows the analysis of external anal sphincter (EAS) function during voluntary contractions. The primary objective of this study was the evaluation of EMG amplitude of external anal sphincter in women who had vaginal delivery, compared to women who had cesarean section. The secondary objective was to evaluate the anal incontinence score changes before and after delivery between the groups, and to look for any relationship between the clinical and EMG findings. Methods: Multichannel surface EMG was detected during maximal contractions in three sessions: (i) during pregnancy, (ii) 6 weeks after delivery and (iii) 1 year after delivery. Women were divided into two groups: cesarean section and vaginal delivery. Results: External anal sphincter EMG amplitude decreases 6 weeks after vaginal deliveries from 10.1 to 8.6 μV with effect size of 0.4, but returns to baseline after 1 year. No differences were observed between groups in all other variables. Conclusion: No differences were observed after 1 year in EMG activity between the two groups; however, a slight decrease of sphincter muscle amplitude was noted 6 weeks after vaginal delivery. The delivery mode does not have effect on the EAS amplitude 1 year after delivery. Incontinence score slightly increased in both groups after delivery, with no significant differences between the two groups. No association was observed between the increase of incontinence score and the decrease of EMG signal amplitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • anal incontinence
  • cesarean section
  • neurophysiologic testing
  • post-partum care

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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