Watch Out for these 7 Prolapse Symptoms During Exercise

prolapse symptoms

These prolapse symptoms give you very useful information about whether your exercises may be overloading your pelvic floor.

If you’ve had prolapse surgery this information can help you avoid repeat prolapse or prolapse worsening with the wrong kind of exercise for your body.

Prolapse Symptoms and General Exercises

Not all women experience prolapse symptoms despite having a prolapse – the following symptoms are intended as a general guide to prolapse symptoms that may occur with exercise. This list does not include all possible prolapse symptoms. Prolapse diagnosis should be performed by a qualified health professional.

Vaginal Bulge

Vaginal bulge is a classic prolapse symptom that occurs when one or more of the vaginal walls move down within and sometimes out of the vagina. Some women notice a visible bulge at the entrance of the vagina and /or feel a bulging sensation within their vagina. Exercises such as heavy lifting, intense core abdominal exercises and/or high impact exercise such as running can worsen the appearance or increase the bulging sensation during or after exercise. If you notice vaginal bulging worsens with specific exercises try to modify or avoid that exercise in favour of pelvic floor safe exercises for prolapse.

Pelvic Heaviness or Pelvic Pressure

A heavy sensation, pelvic pressure or dragging are prolapse symptoms that can worsen with inappropriate exercise. The heaviness may be felt above the pubic bone at the front, or in and around the pelvis where you sit. Pelvic heaviness typically worsens during or after loading exercises such as heavy lifting or high impact exercises. A sense of worsening pelvic heaviness during high impact exercise suggests your pelvic floor is under pressure. Modify higher impact exercises to low impact fitness exercises where at least one foot remains on the ground to reduce loading on your prolapse. Keep all lifting to a manageable load, avoid repetitive lifting and use pelvic floor safe strength training principles.

Lower Back Ache

Period-like ache or lower back discomfort is a prolapse symptom that can worsen with some exercises. Lower back ache has many possible causes however if you have a prolapse or after prolapse surgery be mindful of this symptom worsening during or after your workout. Lower back ache caused by prolapse can often be relieved by lying down and elevating the legs. Choose pelvic floor safe exercises to avoid overloading your pelvic floor with your general exercise program.

Lower Abdominal Pressure lower abdominal pressure

Lower abdominal discomfort associated with pelvic prolapse can be worsened with high impact, heavy lifting or intense core abdominal exercises. The same prolapse management principles apply as for lower back ache with the emphasis on choosing pelvic floor safe exercises.

Bladder Problems

Bladder control problems during exercise are sometimes related to pelvic organ prolapse. Bladder control issues include bladder frequency, urinary urgency and/or stress urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of urine with exercise) can all be exacerbated by inappropriate exercises for your pelvic floor. Decreased bladder control with specific exercises can also be a sign that the pelvic floor is being overloaded with inappropriate exercises. Bladder control training along with pelvic floor exercises can often help some women manage these problems allowing them to exercise.

Bladder emptying problems with prolapse can be caused by a kink in the urethra or urine tube. The bladder emptying problems typically associated with a prolapse include: inability to completely empty (‘incomplete emptying’), difficulty starting to empty (‘hesitancy’) and/or slow flow. Bladder emptying problems can cause some women to have recurrent urinary tract infections. If you notice your bladder emptying problems are typically worse following your workout, you may benefit from modifying your exercise routine to reduce the load on your pelvic floor during exercise and viewing this bladder emptying video.

Bowel Control Problems

Bowel problems associated with some types of pelvic prolapse include soiling after bowel emptying, incontinence of liquid stool or incontinence of wind (gas). These problems can be worsened by high impact exercises or heavy lifting exercises that overload the pelvic floor. Choosing pelvic floor safe exercises, improving stool consistency, using appropriate bowel emptying technique and cleaning with alcohol-free wipes can help management of some of these prolapse symptoms.


Bleeding can occur when a large prolapse becomes ulcerated. In moderate to severe prolapse the inner vaginal walls can rub repeatedly against underwear causing the vaginal tissue to breakdown, bleed and become ulcerated. Vaginal bleeding should be assessed and treated by a medical practitioner.

These 7 prolapse symptoms include some of those experienced by women with pelvic organ prolapse. Knowing your prolapse symptoms and modifying those exercises that tend to make your prolapse symptoms worse is a positive step you can take to exercising and protecting your prolapse long-term.

prolapse exercisesABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Prolapse Exercises Inside Out.

Prolapse Exercises is a complete exercise guide for women with prolapse and after prolapse surgery seeking to exercise safely and protect their pelvic floor.


  1. I feel like I am all alone with this prolapse, it consumes my life and I feel that I have no control. Thank you for the excellent information in your article, you are helping me get my life back.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Pauline
      Thanks for commenting! Glad to hear you are benefiting from this information
      Take care

    • Dear Pauline,
      I’m guessing your prolapse is newly diagnosed. I’ve had a bladder prolapse since my second baby (I have 3) and I’m only 37 years old. I felt exactly the same way as you. I’m writing to let you know that this helpless feeling will pass. You’ll get use to your new circumstances and you’ll adjust your life accordingly. I found a great physio to work with, I do my “prolapse exercises” 30 min a day / 5 days a week, I found a dr I trust, I use Michelle’s book and DVD and I just get on with my life. This didn’t happen over night but it did happen. I never thought this would happen but there are days that I don’t even think about Bob (that’s what I call my bladder “oh no Bon is here today”). Talking about it to your friends and family made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this but talking to other woman with a prolapse helped the most. There should be a prolapse support group :-) Anyways – don’t be shy. If you fancy a chat I can always listen.

  2. Dear Michelle,

    I am a 51 year old woman who has had a prolapse for a long time (caused by being very short and having big babies) and eventually had a hysterectomy in 2007 because I could not use pessaries at all and life was exhausting and not fun. Within a few months I knew that it had not been successful in fixing the prolapse and after two more years, I gave in and had another repair. In 2009 they used the mesh, which unfortunately, being stitched to the ligaments at the base of the coccyx, caused me pain in that area upon sitting. Immediately after the operation I could feel pain there. Driving was horrendous. Thankfully Scenar treatment has helped enormously with the pain. I have had reams of gynecological physiotherapy and specialised physiotherapy for stretching the ligaments too, and to be honest, there was almost non-existent improvement in the pelvic floor muscles. Intimacy is also still problematic due to discomfort. I still have problems exercising. I can walk without getting too achey but I am concerned at not being able to do any resistance work. With my age, I think it is important for my bones. I got fed up in the end of paying out large sums of money and getting nowhere with the physio, so I stopped. I would just like to be able to complete a safe, simple, home programme tailored to me. What is the best option for me in your opinion. If it is your DVD, will it work in Ireland. I look forward to your answer with interest. Regards, Tina.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Tina
      I can understand your frustration, what you have been through over a prolonged period of time sounds absolutely exhausting. Thank you for sharing your experience for other ladies to read too.

      You obviously need to be very cautious about the exercises you choose to avoid aggravating your symptoms and prevent repeat prolapse in view of the fact from what you write that your pelvic floor muscles are not supporting well.

      Agreed general exercise and resistance exercise are both very important for women particularly with menopause and beyond. My experience is that even with prolapse and after prolapse surgery many women can comfortably perform resistance exercises without needing to forgo this – which is why we made the Inside Out Strength DVD. Safe resistance training with prolapse issues involves choosing appropriate strength exercises that don’t overload the pelvic floor, using the right techniques (including positions) to minimise loading and modifying the weights lifted. I use seated exercise ball (or seated bench/chair) resistance exercises where the pelvic floor is supported and appropriate supportive core abdominal muscle activity is encouraged. I also incorporate lying down resistance exercises where the pelvic floor is not placed under load so that resistance exercises are pelvic floor friendly. You can read more about pelvic floor safe resistance exercises with my 10 step guide to safe resistance exercises which is promoted by the Continence Foundation of Australia.

      I hope this provides you with the information you are seeking, and yes the Inside Out DVD is will play worldwide, we have a version for US and the rest of world.

      Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions Tina, I am happy to assist.
      Best wishes

  3. I suffered from a prolapsed uterus last year. My back pain was unbearable, electrical shocks down both legs with movement, even turning to change positions in bed was extreme pain. I needed to take pain meds on a regular basis, but very difficult to control the pain completly. It effected my work as well as my personal life. I have always been active with going to gym, this to was absolutely impossible. I was so depressed, I could not do anything with comfort. Even my doctor was not convinced that my pain was from my prolapse. He thought I had back issues as well. Last April I had my vaginal hysterectomy and pelvic reconstrutive surgery. Now 10 months later I have zero pain. I am very active while at work as well as doing my workouts on a regular basis. I am full of energy, sooo happy zero pain. I do low impact cardio, muscle strengthing but NO abdominal exercise. My doctor said that I will not be able to do abdominal exercises again. I do find that I would like a way to strengthing abdomen safely.

  4. Samantha says:

    Hello Pauline,

    I can completely relate to the experience you’ve described, Pauline. I had one child when I was 21 and have only now , after 9 years of fighting to get help, managed to get surgery. Sadly, my symptoms have pretty much all come back which I now realise is because of the yoga exercises I have been doing, as well as not getting any support during my recovery period.
    I have learnt a lot from your site, Michelle and wish that more people were aware of this. I was dismissed for 9 years by professionals, told that it didn’t matter that I could no longer have an intimate relationship and even invalidated by close friends. I don’t feel hopeful about my future at the moment but I will keep trying.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Samantha

      Your words make me sad and frustrated for you. I agree that there is often a lack of support, not just physically but emotionally where women feel extremely isolated and depressed by their prolapse issues, often being expected just to get on with it all.

      I hope that you are managing some exercise to help you feel well. Do you still do Yoga? It is such a wonderful form of exercise, just sometimes needs a little modification in places to be pelvic floor safe.

      Best wishes

  5. Veronica says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I recently resumed my floor bridge exercise with alternate leg raises but have noticed a little bit of bulging, which I wasn’t one bit happy about! Would you think this one exercise responsible? The other components of my floor exercise regime are single leg kick, bent knee fall outs, leg circles and clams. Maybe I should just do the Floor Bridge as illustrated in your book? What do you think?

    The other thing is that this happened after, well during really, a time of immense stress and grief for our family and I was wondering if, because that is the weakest part of my body, it was the part to react the worst? I’ve heard that happens. Could you comment please?

    Thank you, Veronica

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Veronica

      I am sorry to hear of your hard times, my condolences.

      Maybe the alternate leg raises are having some impact, clams and bent knee fall outs will not be the culprits.

      How do you perform your single leg kick and leg circles, are you in full bridge when circling your leg?

      On stress, I think the effect of fatigue on the pelvic floor with stress can be underestimated. Stress can cause muscle fatigue and alternatively pelvic floor muscle spasm, both of which can weaken the pelvic floor.

      Kindest regards

      Let me know about your exercises Veronica

      • Veronica says:

        Hi Michelle,

        Thanks for your kind thoughts. We’re gradually ‘getting there’.

        When I do my leg circles my bottom is on the floor and my other leg is bent.
        The single leg kick is me lying flat, my forehead on the backs of my hands, bend the leg to 90, lift about 6-9cm , straighten leg, then lower the leg.

        I’ve watched your Kegel videos again and concentrated wholly on them while doing them, and that’s boosted the old confidence metre! Concentration is a victim of stress so watching the videos really grounded me back to the right frame of mind and best practising.

        The other floor exercise I do is on all 4s, knees below hips, hands on top of one another, push one leg out, bring it back in to the point before the back starts to curl, repeat, etc.

        Thanks Michelle,

        cheers, Veronica

        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Veronica

          In that case keep your floor bridge to just that – a floor bridge without single leg raise. When things settle down you might feel inclined to try a single leg raise without the bridge and see what effect that has on your pelvic floor (using your gentle TA holds not strong abdo holds). I would probably avoid full bridge with single leg raise as there is alot to control in this exercise. You might gradually work towards single leg raise with a toe tap in your bridge progressing to a knee lift. Let me know how you go!

          Best wishes

  6. Thanks Michelle. I’ll give it a go. Pls just remind me what TA is.
    cheers, Veronica

  7. I’m glad I found your site as there really is little information out there and all I have found is doom and gloom which it helping the depression this diagnosis has caused me.
    I had baby 3rd November 2015 and after suffering end of day vaginal pains saw a wonderful physio in December who told me I had a cystocele stage 2 and possible rectocele with a lower than normal uterus (?). Anyway she told me low impact excercise is ok to do but I get sore after even housework and if I do a short flat slow walk down the road I feel pressure and soreness and am worried I might be making things worse?
    I really want to be doing something I’m not overweight at all but usually very active with long walks and kickboxing I really miss being able to do these things and feel like my life will never be the same ever again. six year old wonders why I can’t play like I used too with him. Should I be giving up any form of walking etc until I at least stop breast feeding?

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Jenna
      Thanks for your comment. First and foremost ask your pelvic floor physio what she recommends for you as she know the capacity of your pelvic floor. Jenna I am very much in favour of supporting your desire to exercise to help your emotional well being and your overall postnatal recovery. While your pelvic floor is recovering maybe you might consider some alternative low impact exercises such as stationary cycling to music that you enjoy, water walking, noodle cycling in the pool (going with a friend perhaps another new mum to the pool can allow you some time to exercise while you take it in turns). If gym exercise suits you better you might find that alternating 5 mins of elliptical with some stationary cycling might be a starting point. Try to explore the options for low impact that are feasible and appeal to you Jenna.

      Additionally you may wish to consider discussing a support pessary with your gynaecologist for the short-term at least too.

      Hope this helps, all the best!

  8. Is there any hope for 76 yr. old who has vaginal prolapse? Is it okay to take walks or will that make the prolapse worse? I do lots of kegels every day along with a few other exercises that I saw on line. I appreciate any help. It seems that most people that have written you are quite young.

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Anne
      I think there’s often scope for improvement regardless of age. Our muscles strengthen at any age – make sure you progress your Kegels so that you’re getting the most out of them in standing and using strong contractions. Walking exercise is usually appropriate provided the prolapse isn’t severe – when the prolapse is severe walking and even prolonged standing can cause discomfort. Walking exercise is an excellent low impact form of exercise for many women with prolapse problems.

      The other thing that you might consider is speaking with your gynaecologist about a support pessary if you find that you need additional prolapse support, you can read more here

      All the best Anne,

  9. Are Aqua aerobics suitable to participate in when you have a prolapse

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Kaycee

      Aqua aerobics can be a really nice low impact form of exercise for women with products problems. Unfortunately like most forms of group exercise, there are some exercises that may not be appropriate for some women with products problems such as running and jumping especially the water is quite shallow. Some aqua aerobics classes include core exercises that might be avoided such as double knees to chest. Otherwise if you can monitor your symptoms and keep your exercises though impact with at least 1 foot on the ground throughout to avoid heavy landing then you will minimise the impact on your pelvic floor.

      All the best

  10. Hi Michelle,

    I’m so happy than I found your web site.
    I’ve been diagnosed with a mild bladder prolapse. I have a 12 month darling and I think pushing a bad pram for a week visiting my aunty was what I need to get the prolapse going (that was 2 month ago).
    When I’m ovulating I think it worsen. I fell a lot of pain on my lower back, period like cramps and heavy legs.
    As I mention I have a daughter and she wants to be in arms a lot still (teething), so I carry her a lot which I know that doesn’t help but I don’t see way around. Do you have any suggestion?

    I understand that I could overcome the symptoms with pelvic floor exercises and avoid surgery, which was my dr first suggestion. but I’m not totally sure if is a condition that we have to carry for life and we only can improved but never heal it in a 100% so comes and goes through up our life? Just the idea scare me.

    I’m not feeling very strong at these point in my life I don’t know if because I’m still breastfeeding and sleep depraved or the prolapse is taking some energy as well, so I’m only practising some restorative yoga and alexander technique exercises but I’m only 30 and I will love to start getting more active but I’m scare of worsen the condition. Plus intimacy go down to cero after all these I don’t have room to even think about it and scare me the idea of making everything worse….

    My last question is about an idea that I have in my mind that it worries me, on my understanding the human body doesn’t have any spare room inside so if the bladder is collapsing, it doesn’t make a dominos effect on the rest of the organs moving them a bit and putting everything out of place? which in the long run will compromise the organs themselves? or I’m being too catastrophic?

    Thank you Michelle,

    • Michelle Kenway Physiotherapist says:

      Hi Sara

      Thank you for your questions, yes managing a prolapse especially in the early days is challenging I understand your concerns.

      First let me put your mind at rest, with a mild bladder prolapse there is no risk of the organs collapsing in on themselves or moving out of place. Your prolapse is due to some stretching. You can stop worrying about putting everything out of place.

      I agree with your doctor, the best place to start is with pelvic floor exercises. Most women find that when they are breastfeeding, doing a lot of lifting and feeling very tired, their prolapse feels much worse. Yes you’re correct doing a lot of standing and lifting does increase pressure on your pelvic floor. By all means nurse your baby however you may find that doing this sitting even on exercise ball to rock the baby and comfort is a good alternative to standing. When you’re fatigued you’re more likely to have back pain, and when you have back pain your pelvic floor won’t work as well either so it all becomes a bit of a cycle. It may help to get your back assessed and treated if necessary. Try to rest when your baby rests. Walk with your baby in the pram for gentle exercise if this feels comfortable and gradually build up your exercise tolerance this way if possible.

      I hope this gives you a place to start Sara. If it helps you, I think many women agree that the early days of looking after a baby can be very physically and emotionally demanding and this can make prolapse symptoms much worse early on. For many ladies these symptoms do improve.
      Best wishes