Cell-based secondary prevention of childbirth-induced pelvic floor trauma
| With advancing population age, pelvic-floor dysfunction (PFD) will affect an increasing number of women. Many of these women wish to maintain active lifestyles, indicating an urgent need for effective strategies to treat or, preferably, prevent the occurrence of PFD. Childbirth and pregnancy have both long been recognized as crucial contributing factors in the pathophysiology of PFD. Vaginal delivery of a child is a serious traumatic event, causing anatomical and functional changes in the pelvic floor. Similar changes to those experienced during childbirth can be found in symptomatic women, often many years after delivery. Thus, women with such PFD symptoms might have incompletely recovered from the trauma caused by vaginal delivery. This hypothesis creates the possibility that preventive measures can be initiated around the time of delivery. Secondary prevention has been shown to be beneficial in patients with many other chronic conditions. The current general consensus is that clinicians should aim to minimize the extent of damage during delivery, and aim to optimize healing processes after delivery, therefore preventing later dysfunction. A substantial amount of research investigating the potential of stem-cell injections as a therapeutic strategy for achieving this purpose is currently ongoing. Data from small animal models have demonstrated positive effects of mesenchymal stem-cell injections on the healing process following simulated vaginal birth injury.