All women who had three elective caesarean sections were selected from a database of 40,000 women delivering between 1977 and 1998, and age-matched with women having three vaginal births. They all completed a (validated) urinary and bowel symptom questionnaire. Women who had vaginal births had a significantly higher prevalence of stress incontinence but not other urinary or faecal symptoms compared with those delivered by caesarean section. The prevalence of faecal incontinence was lower than the prevalence of urinary incontinence. Although the prevalence of faecal incontinence was lower after caesarean delivery, this was not statistically different. These data have shown that caesarean section was associated with a lower risk of urinary incontinence, although a protective effect on development of faecal symptoms was not seen.