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A Review of Phytoestrogens and Their Association With Pelvic Floor Conditions

Cardenas-Trowers, Olivia, MD*; Meyer, Isuzu, MD; Markland, Alayne, D., DO, MSc; Richter, Holly, E., PhD, MD; Addis, Ilana, MD, MPH*

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery: May/June 2018 - Volume 24 - Issue 3 - p 193–202
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000000559
Review Article

Introduction Urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and fecal incontinence are pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) disproportionately experienced by postmenopausal women. Limited data exist suggesting that phytoestrogens may have an impact on the pathophysiology and symptom of PFDs.

Purpose of Review The aim of the study was to review the current literature addressing the role of phytoestrogens on PFDs, including the pathophysiology, symptom, treatment, and possible prevention.

Findings Qualifying literature spans from 2003 to 2017 and included 14 studies ranging from in vitro, animal, and observational studies to randomized clinical trials.

Summary Although the literature is limited, most studies on phytoestrogens and PFDs support associations with pathophysiologic mechanisms, symptoms, and treatment for urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, but not fecal incontinence. Less is known regarding the prevention of PFDs with phytoestrogen intake over time. Overall, the potential influence of phytoestrogens on PFDs is not well understood, and more research is needed.

Although the literature is limited, most studies on phytoestrogens and pelvic floor disorders support associations with pathophysiologic mechanisms, symptoms, and treatment for urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, but not fecal incontinence.

From the *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; †Division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; and ‡Birmingham/Atlanta Geriatrics, Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the Birmingham VA Medical Center, Departments of Medicine, Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

Correspondence: Olivia Orlinda Cardenas-Trowers, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona, 1501 N Campbell Avenue, 8th Flr, Tucson, Arizona, 85724. E-mail: ocardenastrowers@obgyn.arizona.edu.

The authors have declared they have no conflicts of interest.

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