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Volunteers sought for U. study on pelvic floor disorders

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Women who are marathon runners, couch potatoes or anything in between are invited to help solve a long-debated question on whether strenuous exercise contributes to pelvic floor disorders, including incontinence.

The University of Utah has a National Institutes of Health research grant to help resolve the question. "A lot of doctors believe it and so do many women," said Dr. Ingrid Nygaard, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U. "But it has not been scientifically proven either way."

Participants in the study will fill out a Lifetime Physical Activities Questionnaire that looks back at activity from the teen years on; the researchers will combine what they learn there with a pelvic exam to see if there is a link between activity and pelvic floor disorders, recently shown to affect about 25 percent of women over a lifetime. From the enrollee point of view, it requires a single visit to the U.'s general clinical research center, for which compensation will be provided.

"It's a chance for women in Utah to contribute to a significant question, in a single appointment. I don't like to see women told not to be physically active if there is not evidence to support it. But if there is a level of strenuousness (related to the disorders), they should be informed so they can make decisions."

The questionnaire looks at a variety of activities, including outdoor and household. The researchers hope to enroll 2,000 women from along the Wasatch Front over the next three years and expect to have some solid answers by year four.

Women who enroll can have symptoms of pelvic floor disorders or none at all, she said.

For more information or to find out if you qualify for the study, call 801-637-3965.

E-mail: lois@desnews.com