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5 Tips for Exercising with Prolapse: Part 1

Suffering with prolapse can hinder many aspects of your life. 

Depending on the location and severity of your prolapse, there are many different symptoms, which can develop over time. Because of prolapse, sex may hurt. Or, you may have a feeling of looseness within the vagina, and have more difficulty reaching orgasm. Prolapse can worsen or lead to constipation.1

Prolapse can also limit your ability to exercise. But does it have to? Understanding prolapse can help you know how to remain active. 

Suffering With Prolapse

If you have been diagnosed with Pelvic Organ Prolapse, or POP, you’re not alone. Pelvic organ prolapse happens when the muscles that support your pelvic organs weaken, such as after childbirth, or due to aging, genetics, or chronic straining with constipation, for instance.2

There are different organs that can be affected by prolapse, including your bladder, so there are actually 5 types of POP depending on the organ that’s impacted:3

  • rectocele which involves the large bowel 
  • cystocele which involves the bladder
  • enterocele which involves the intestines 
  • vaginal vault, which occurs after a hysterectomy 
  • uterine which involves the uterus

There are also 5 stages of prolapse.3

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of prolapse, but in general, the common symptoms can include:3

  • pressure, pain, or fullness in your vagina, rectum, or both
  • difficulty with tampons staying inserted
  • urinary incontinence
  • constipation
  • pain in the lower back and/or abdomen 
  • pain during sex

Prolapse is very common, and it’s estimated that about 50 percent of women will have some degree of prolapse. As well, more than 12 percent of American women will have surgery for it in their lifetime.2

Women with prolapse sometimes suffer from general fatigue and depression. Researchers have found that pelvic floor dysfunction and depression are connected. 4  Prolapse significantly impacts women’s emotional health and subjective well-being.5

Good news comes in the form of exercise, which can help improve mental health. Exercise can reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood—and improve self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal.6

If your treatment plan includes surgery, then the rehabilitation process will benefit from the right kind of exercise. This can play an important role in reconnecting and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and the muscles surrounding it. Exercise that’s specific to prolapse can help improve and manage symptoms.3

But if you have prolapse, you may worry about exercising: Will exercise make prolapse worse? What exercise can I do with prolapse? Can I exercise to make my prolapse better? Some exercises can make things worse, so where do you turn for guidance?3

Now that you know about prolapse, read Part 2 to find out what you need to know about exercise and prolapse.

Ask a Doctor

If you have pelvic organ prolapse, you can still exercise! Staying active is one way to combat the negative emotions, fatigue and even depression that sometimes accompany this pelvic condition. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can provide advice on exercise and prolapse for your specific situation.

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