Exercising with a pelvic organ prolapse
After childbirth some women can experience a pelvic organ prolapse (POP) which is when there isn’t enough support for the internal pelvic organs so they descend into the pelvis. Many women describe feeling a bulge in their vagina which sometimes feels worse when they perform certain exercises.
Although there are a few exercises that would not be beneficial for you if you have a prolapse such as wide leg exercises, heavy weighted exercises (ones that put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor), crunches and high impact exercises, there are still lots of other exercises that you can do. But if you do feel your prolapse symptoms when you’re training then try modifying your breathing.
Doing different methods of breathing whilst performing an exercise can have a big impact on your prolapse. The usual way we fitness professionals coach our clients to breathe, is to exhale on exertion i.e breathe out on the hardest part of the exercise for example during a squat, you’d inhale as you descend and exhale as you ascend.
However if you have a prolapse and you’re feeling a bulging or heaviness in your vagina when you exercise try:-
- exhaling through exertion (start the exhale just before the exertion)
- inhaling whenever and exhaling whenever
- inhale on exertion
- use a breath hold through the hardest part of the exercise and finish your full exhale and inhale on the rest portion of the exercise
You could also try varying your exercise position for example favour side lying, seated and incline bench positions over standing ones.
Everyone with a prolapse, can feel it in different ways so it’s more a trial and error of what works and what doesn’t.
Another thing to be aware of is that some women with prolapses feel the symptoms more during their period or ovulation so if you find that’s the case with you, then during those times perhaps regress your training or decrease the load you use.