How Long to Wait for Safe Return to Exercise After Prolapse Surgery?

How long do you need to wait before returning to exercise after prolapse surgery?

Is it safe to return to your regular exercise after prolapse surgery?

Wait for exercise after prolapse surgery

This Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy information helps you plan your safe return to exercise.

Read on now to learn:

  • Problems with returning too soon to exercise after prolapse surgery
  • How long to wait before returning to exercise
  • Safe exercises after prolapse surgery
  • Prolapse exercises to avoid after prolapse surgery
  • How to return to exercise safely after prolapse surgery

Problems With Returning too Soon to Exercise After Prolapse Surgery

Returning to exercise too soon after surgery can increase the risk of repeat prolapse problems.

2 main prolapse problems caused by returning to exercise before your repair is completely healed:Tissues stretch

  • Tissue stretch – newly healed tissues can over-stretch causing a ‘loose’ repair which isn’t as firm or sitting as high as it would otherwise.
  • Immediate prolapse – when the stitches used for your repair give way causing repeat prolapse.

 

During your prolapse surgery your surgeon surgically supports your prolapsed pelvic organs (i.e. bladder, bowel or uterus). Prolapse surgery usually involves cutting away loose prolapsed tissues and stitching (sewing) your pelvic tissues to hold your pelvic organs in place.

Prolapse surgery results in an internal wound that is stitched up and can’t be seen from outside the body, so it can be easy to forget or not well understood by others including some gym instructors or personal trainers.

As your newly repaired tissues heal and form scar tissue, the stitches usually dissolve inside your body. The newly healed tissues then take on the role of holding up your pelvic organs.

How Long to Wait Before Returning to Exercise

Always wait until you have your surgeon’s approval to return to general exercise. The best time for you to return to exercise is something you’ll need to discuss with your surgeon during your postoperative visit approximately 6 weeks after your prolapse surgery.

Some women receive approval to return to general exercise 6-8 weeks after prolapse surgery. This varies from patient to patient and there is definitely no one rule for all women.

Unfortunately some women make the mistake of thinking that after 6 weeks they are fully healed and they return to their previous exercise routine. During the first 6 weeks your stitches hold together your tissues as they heal. During this time it’s very important  to avoid overloading your pelvic floor tissues with unsafe exercises.

Complete tissue healing takes 3 months and sometimes longer. During this time your prolapse repair is still vulnerable to strain and overload, especially with some general exercises (discussed below).

Safe return to general exercise depends on a number of factors including:

  • Type of prolapse repair surgery (e.g. cystocele repair, rectocele repair, uterine prolapse)
  • Surgical technique used by your surgeon
  • Postoperative complications
  • How well your pelvic floor muscles are working
  • Condition of your pelvic floor tissues (e.g. after menopause your pelvic tissues are more likely to be thin and vulnerable to strain)
  • Your body weight (the more abdominal weight you carry, the greater the load on your pelvic floor and repair with exercise)

Safe Exercise After Prolapse Surgery

Women usually return to modified exercises designed to avoid overloading their pelvic floor tissues.

Modified general exercises include:

Walking exercise

  • Low impact cardiovascular fitness exercises (e.g. walking, water walking, low impact dancing, low impact aerobics)
  • Pelvic floor safe resistance exercises (e.g. seated bicep curls, flood bridging exercises, clam exercise)
  • Pelvic floor safe core abdominal exercises

Prolapse Exercises to Avoid After Prolapse Surgery

Some exercises increase the load on the pelvic floor, increasing the risk of straining prolapse repair or causing repeat prolapse.

Prolapse exercises to avoid after prolapse surgery include:

Unsafe core exercise after prolapse surgery

  • High impact exercises – e.g. distance running, jumping, high impact aerobics
  • Heavy strength training and inappropriate strength exercises – e.g. leg press, deep wide leg squats, kettle bell swings
  • Intense core abdominal exercises – e.g. abdominal curl exercises, intense Yoga or Pilates core abdominal exercises

Many women choose to avoid these types of heavy loading and high impact exercises long-term after their prolapse repair.

How to Return to Exercise Safely After Prolapse Surgery

  1. Most women start daily walking after discharge from hospital
  2. Continue your progressive walking program during the first 6 weeks after surgery
  3. Seek advice on pelvic floor rehabilitation from a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
  4. Commence pelvic floor rehabilitation during your recovery as advised by your Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
  5. Resume modified general exercises when you have approval to do so from your surgeon.

Key Points for When to Return to Exercise After Prolapse Surgery

  • Prolapse surgery involves an internal wound that’s not visible from outside the body
  • Overloading the pelvic floor before fully healed can cause a lax repair or repeat prolapse
  • Some women receive approval to return to modified exercise from 6-8 weeks after prolapse surgery
  • Complete tissue healing takes around 3 months
  • Choose low impact exercises, pelvic floor safe resistance exercises and appropriate core abdominal exercises after prolapse surgery
  • Avoid high impact exercises, inappropriate heavy resistance training exercises and intense core abdominal exercises to protect your prolapse repair.

Prolapse Exercises Book

This complete exercise guide is especially for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely, reduce the risk of prolapse worsening and improve prolapse support.

Prolapse Exercises Book

Prolapse Exercises teaches you how to:

  • Relieve prolapse symptoms
  • Avoid unsafe exercises
  • Choose pelvic floor safe exercises
  • Reduce your risk of prolapse worsening
  • Improve prolapse support
  • Increase your strength and fitness
  • Recover after prolapse surgery
  • Return to exercise safely
  • Strengthen your core
  • Lose weight

    Learn More

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is an Australian Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Michelle lectures to health professionals and promotes community health through her writing, radio segments, online exercise videos and community presentations. She holds dual post graduate physiotherapy qualifications in women’s health and exercise.

We Welcome Your Comments

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Comments

  1. I had an abdominal hysterectomy 2 weeks and 6 days ago and am still using your safe method for getting in and out of bed as a precaution but when can I just sit up and lie strait back in bed like normal? I am recovering well. I still have swelling should I wait until the swelling goes away? My fitness is good.

    • Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Kesai

      My apologies for the delayed reply. Rowing onto your side and lifting sideways out of bed is actually the safest technique to use for moving in and out of bed long term. It avoids pressure on your back and your pelvic floor. I use this technique every day. Hope you’re recovering well cheers Michelle

  2. I have found your guidance on safe stomach exercises for both Zumba and Pilates very helpful.

    Do you have any guidance for AquaFit? My local leisure centre offers two types of classes – one in the deep end and one in the shallow end. One exercise last week had us curling our legs up (i.e. not touching the bottom of the pool) whilst we rolled backwards and forwards on the spot.

    Isobel

    • Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Isobel
      Aquafit is tricky as other factors influence the impact as well such as the depth of the pool. I usually advise the principle to reduce the impact of exercises like jogging in the pool by keeping these exercises for when the water is at chest level rather than below. Just take care with exercises that involve strong abdominal contractions like jumping and bringing your knees to your chest (sometimes called bunny tucks). Some of the arm resistance exercises using floats can also involve strong outer abdominal contractions so be mindful,of these exercises too. Deep water cycling exercises should feel quite comfortable – bing one knee at a time to your chest never both. Hope this helps you enjoy! Cheers

  3. I have had surgery for prolapse repair twice and last time had hysterectomy
    I have thought about learning golf
    Advice would be appreciated
    Many thanks

    • Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Julie
      Golf involves low impact and therefore the walking part is appropriate. I would be inclined to keep the games to 9 holes rather than 18 to avoid the prolonged standing and walking as I understand that 18 holes is a lengthy game. As for the golfing action I’m no expert and don’t know the force of the swing when playing long shots on the pelvic floor – I imagine that a slow steady swing would be less forceful than a hard fast swing? I would also consider the strength of your pelvic floor and maximize this with pelvic exercises prior to commencing. Wish I could help you more on this issue Julie!

  4. Christine says:

    Hi,
    I have just had repair of a urocele, enterocele and rectocele and am in first week of recovery.
    I will be following all your suggestions on this wonderfully informative site, however can you advise me on the use of pessarries to act as support during exercise, work and walking. The reason I ask this, is
    A I am menopausal
    B I work as a nurse so am on my feet….a lot
    C I do a lot of trekking…so my backpacks often weigh 12-15kgs
    Do you think using pessarries eg the ring, would help provide support and prevent reprolapse.
    I asked my gynaecologist but she said she has never had anyone use pessarries after repair unless they had reprolapsed. Would appreciate any feedback.
    Regards
    Chris
    Thankyou again for this amazing site.

    • Michelle Kenway Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Christine
      This is a really good question. I can only find research comparing prolapse surgery versus pessary and no prospective trials using a pessary after prolapse surgery. I don’t think it would be possible to even run such a trial. I’ll ask around and see what I can find out on this issue. I do see your concerns related to work and lifestyle and obviously pelvic floor exercises will be the first priority for prevention. I will be back in touch
      Cheers
      Michelle