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 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 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 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.
ABOUT 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.