Pelvic Floor Dysfunction After Hysterectomy: Moving the Investigation Forward

Valerie Chen, Laura Shackelford, Marta Spain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The role of hysterectomy in the development of pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) remains widely disputed. The controversy is fueled by two key factors. The first is conflicting association studies that make it difficult to establish whether a link truly exists. Although many retrospective studies report a correlation between hysterectomy and increased risk of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or pelvic organ prolapse (POP), prospective studies often fail to replicate these results, leading some to conclude that no association exists. However, most prospective studies do not follow up for a sufficient length of time to account for the long latency of PFD and cannot unilaterally prove the absence of an association. The second source of controversy is the absence of a plausible mechanism to explain how hysterectomy could predispose patients to PFD. In this paper, we investigate autonomic innervation and smooth muscle in the three layers of pelvic floor support and propose a mechanism through which autonomic damage from hysterectomy could predispose patients to PFD. We then identify key research areas needed to evaluate this theory. This report aims to inspire a discussion on how to further the collective understanding of the relationship between hysterectomy and PFD. Clarifying the nature of this connection could have enormous consequences in redefining the risks and benefits of hysterectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15661
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • pelvic floor dysfunction
  • inferior hypogastric plexus
  • autonomic innervation
  • stress urinary incontinence
  • pelvic organ prolapse
  • hysterectomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Pelvic Floor Dysfunction After Hysterectomy: Moving the Investigation Forward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this